My Story: A Metanarrative. {poetry}


I am always extremely honored, humbled, and grateful when a woman shares her story with me. I feel much the same way when a woman takes the time to listen to mine.

Giving a piece of yourself to someone and receiving a piece from someone are both radical, life-changing acts. There is no return, no Backspace button, no gummy pink eraser to take back words already spoken. There is nothing to do but to continue forward.

It takes courage and candor to weave the tale, compassion and grace to wear it. To entrust it to someone else is like slicing off a piece of your soul and saying, “Here, have a taste.” And then to let it rest on the tongue without spitting it out or consuming it ravenously signifies a dignified respect for its flavor — whether sweet, bitter or sour.

What bigger blessing, what bigger burden, than to have and satisfy such an appetite.

We are open hearts, open books, we women. Our stories are cathartic and transformative. Our stories can heal. Help us connect. Encourage us to explore. Allow us to express. Our stories are important. Personally and universally, a story can create reverberations that create lasting and lifelong changes.

When we share freely, when we give of ourselves despite, or rather in the face of, reservation, we are giving permission to other women to feel that same glory, relief, satisfaction, or wonder. When we tell a story, we are casting a stone out into the water.

And there are stories only women can tell. Our stories are directly linked to our identities as women — as daughters, sisters, mothers, friends, partners, artists, laborers, professionals, activists, seekers, and divine beings. Stories show a woman’s character, her strengths, weaknesses, vulnerabilities, points of view, and both light and dark places.

I am amazed at the lives women live, the strength they draw upon, the joy they create, the pains they live with, the wisdom they show, the things they decide, the sacrifices they make, the love they ceaselessly give.

Stories sustain us and guide us through the different times in our lives — seminal events that inspire a web of support through story — births, illnesses, deaths, first loves, weddings, divorces. Stories of tragedy and triumph. Stories that teach us something or make us feel that we are not alone in our experience. Stories that simply make us laugh.

Stories are, in every sense, how we are remembered and how we remember others. Women’s stories are a celebration of women. Here is mine:

My Story

My story is told

in moments of fire

and the blue dark depths

of truths and fictions

both self-evident and hidden

My story is told

in shame and pride, stops and starts

in the moments I live and die

in all the details of my life

My story is told in body parts, both mine and others’ —

strong-set bones, spider-like fingers,

roadmaps of stretch marks, wrinkles and veins

constellations of freckles and dimples along the terrain

tattoos, touchable soft spots, and curious scars

peach-rounded bottoms and pink, fleshy flower parts —

My story is told in births and deaths

rebirths and transformations

in the skipped heartbeats of winged hope

the breaking of bones, the scraping of knees

and other unforeseen tragedies

a shero’s journey, my story

My story is told in the dark, late at night

when no one is watching

and again in the morning light

under the gaze of my dreams

when the dawn is hatching

My story is told in promises,

both whispered and spoken

either kept or broken

a tribute to nothing and no one but the

broken-down and battered-something of someone

like me if I dared to know her well

My story is told in choices

the consequences of which give me voices

that both croak and sing my singular, complex song

one keening note both soft and long

My story

My story is told with abandon and equal amounts of

reservation which I reserve for my Self

that parceled-off piece of territory that

no one else has a passport to but

whose borders are as open as a book

My story is a map

it is a gift, a journey along my shallow crevices

into the deepest workings of my flesh

My story is one of permission

the consent to be myself

a lotus-flowering of the heart

opening to both give and receive

making it at once soft and strong

My story

My story is your story, our story, her story

My story is you, it is us, it is she

My story is We.


Deneene Bell is a mother, writer, teacher, traveler, seeker, bitch, fighter, and goddess. She lives in the coastal redwoods north of San Francisco with her husband, two sons, and a small flurry of feathery and furry things. When she’s not nurturing little spirits and words, she does a lot of reading, dishes, and Yoga. She has a couple of degrees that she’s put to hopeful and practical use teaching for universities, advising college-bound students, editing books, and writing lots of different stuff for lots of different entities. Her superpower is involuntarily editing everything from text messages to bathroom-stall poetry. Her dreams include raising good humans, living with mindfulness and grace, and finishing one of the books she’s writing. She blogs in search of those dreams, and to connect with others who may share or seek to understand her experiences and ideas, at SattvaMama.


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