Your spine was designed to hold your body upright (but perhaps it does no longer or never did), but what holds you up—your sense of identify and/or your ability to function—within this world? What keeps you moving through your days? Is it another person, a whole network of people, a single memory, home or a place you visited, your name alone that carries you, a tattooed reminder, an activity (your writing perhaps), the voice pouring out your throat, a song that plays only in your head, some hope or plan for the future? What defies the gravity of other people’s betrayals and life’s endless series of disappointments and losses?
Write a poem about what sustains you and what keeps you standing. Read “Corpse Flower” by Vanessa Angélica Villarreal. Try to incorporate history and geographical surroundings—what are the coordinates for the self? For inspiration, read “Tan Tien” by Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge, “The Law of the Apple” by Edwin Torres, and “Devotee” by Anne Waldman Perhaps spine is both physical and metaphorical as with Jane Hirschfield’s “My Proteins”; Or, if you wish, write how your spine failed to hold you straight, so you bent more than a willow as with the poem “boy” by Katy Przybylski. And check out “Combustion” by Sara Eliza Johnson.