A bit of preamble: This is the first draft of a poem I wrote after doing a gig that centred around International Women’s Day. I’m not a feminist, I just believe in equality and human rights. I actually often think that feminism can tip into being anti-men which I certainly am not. People are people, we are all human beings and blah blah. The gig got me thinking about areas in my life where I feel unified with women.
I didn’t want to do the standard “mother’s are amazing” or “men can make women feel like objects” poem. I wanted to challenge myself and explore something that could be a bit lighter while also portraying strength<< not the right word but hey. And also something I’ve not really considered before.
Anyway! I wrote this poem because I go to an Aqua Fit class every Sunday. Initially, attending helped with my depression and anxiety because it got me being around people in a fairly safe environment where socialising wasn’t imperative: you can turn up, not speak to anybody, do your thing and leave.
I soon realised that 9.6 times out of ten, the class was 100% women. I guess a reduction in depression and anxiety was empowering in itself, but the fact that I was surrounded by women all the while seemed to make the scene even more relevant to the whole “International Women’s Day” theme.
One thing I’ll mention as a little heads up, is that I’ve lost some weight recently. I lose my appetite when I’m unhappy or anxious so it just falls off me. Life has taken a very positive turn so pounds are hitting up this bod again (currently shovelling popcorn and home-baked gluten-free cookies as I type).
It’s just that I felt ashamed of being slim whenever I went to the class. I still do. Hard to explain but I hate people thinking I have an ego. I’m fairly familiar with people stealing glances and avoiding starting conversations. I am a nice person I promise!! I don’t know if that resonates with anybody but I’ll be quiet now and let whatever small audience this reaches read my poem! (It’s also written with performance in mind because that’s what I do!). Jeez, enough disclaimers now.
Ciao and enjoy!
Aqua Fit – Why I love Sunday Mornings
Toned and taught body on show in new snazzy swimming costume: I feel naked.
A cluster of human beings – exclusively the female kind – huddles by the poolside.
I am self-conscious, as everybody knows someone except for me,
Even though my face is a familiar one in this place now.
People avoid me much of the time.
No one to distract, toned and taught body on show,
I feel naked and to be fair I practically am.
I am ashamed of my shape though: sure they all think
I’m a narcissist and want to thrust it in their faces.
I hide in a cubicle sometimes, until they’re all submerged and the class has started.
Once in the water though, I feel invisible.
I may as well have become liquid myself
In the most positive way possible: Nowhere near
anything like how an emotionally abusive partner
might dismiss their other half
making them feel insignificant with inflicted ugliness. No.
Once in the water I feel a unity so strong between myself
and the other women: whether large with skin like pummelled oranges
Or old with grey hair turning charcoal
beneath the cobalt chlorine tub. We’re just a mass.
Who bounce, bob and buckle our bodies to music.
Foam noodles between our thighs sometimes. The main aim:
To burn calories. But a lot of the time we laugh at our shapes
squabbling against gravity, losing the battle and plunging.
Mouths choking on water, nostrils retaliating as if some dickhead
sprayed Domestos up them.
5, 6, 7, 8 the instructor says. As our legs kick,
Adidas bathing suits swish clumsily to the poolside
while Nike’s glide, criss-cross straps
peeling over taught backs, elegant.
We are all women today:
On the odd occasion a stray male wades in.
Never to return, though we would kindly welcome any of them back
to our Sunday 10am start Aqua Fit Class.
To the eyes of we women, who possess both flat and full bustiers’,
Amusing are deep-set obliques pointing to a bulge failing miserably
to hide behind black and white Speedos.
But before we know it, class comes to a close.
So we mount the shallow end steps. I note-
Some of our shocks of pubic hair straying out of bathing costumes.
Others waxed as smooth as the underside of your chin,
the rest cut-red from repetitive shaving.
But we don’t judge because we’ve probably
been them all, and will be them all again.
A cluster of human beings – exclusively the female kind –
huddles by the poolside
Toned and taught body on show in new snazzy swimming costume:
I feel naked while treading over tiles, to find a cubicle to change in.
I sit down on a seat; wonder if someone will speak to me eventually.
Guess I’ll have to wait till next week to see.
If not, at least a week isn’t a momentous amount of time to have to wait
to feel that wonderful inclusive invisibility among us women,
And the odd stray male if he decides to wade in.