Body is something you need in order to stay
on this planet and you only get one.
And no matter which one you get, it will not
be satisfactory. It will not be beautiful
enough, it will not be fast enough, it will
not keep on for days at a time, but will
pull you down into a sleepy swamp and
demand apples and coffee and chocolate cake.
Body is a thing you have to carry
from one day into the next. Always the
same eyebrows over the same eyes in the same
skin when you look in the mirror, and the
same creaky knee when you get up from the
floor and the same wrist under the watchband.
The changes you can make are small and
costly—better to leave it as it is.
Body is a thing that you have to leave
eventually. You know that because you have
seen others do it, others who were once like you,
living inside their pile of bones and
flesh, smiling at you, loving you,
leaning in the doorway, talking to you
for hours and then one day they
are gone. No forwarding address.
Joyce Sutphen, “Living in the Body” from Coming Back to the Body from the Writer’s Almanac, 9/20/21
I eat a slice of chocolate cake every year to celebrate a loss I’ve had. This poem reminds me of living and of celebrating despite and because of loss. Some years I bake a cake to freeze slices to enjoy throughout the year. A way to keep both the sadness and the gratitude in my body.
The body is everything. Let’s promise to be in ours today.
P.S. Next time I bake a cake for the occasion, I’ll have to take a picture to share. For now, I rely on stock photos online.