you & me

The Grandeur of the Body: Breaking Free from Suburbia.

As I approach my 10-year high school reunion, I ruminate on the glory and derision I have for small towns.

Small minds and how we cage ourselves up, unaware of all we have before us if only we ventured beyond our borders. How getting to fully know ourselves and our place amidst the vastness of the world is itself a grand adventure.

The blonde-haired girls in my small town called my brown hair dirty. My eyes were the mud piled up on their boyfriends’ pick-up trucks, not the smooth dark chocolate of confectioneries chocolatiers so lovingly fold. They never stared long enough to see the gold glinting when the amber streetlights warmed my face, when the moon was the only wonder lighting up the street.

I have never seen evergreens bow to grandeur like they do toward the moon in winter.

There is something so haunting now about an empty football field and the broken bulbs of its spotlights. How the only kings we knew were the stars of turf, we built their pedestals too high and they had nothing more to reach. The marble came chipping away — cracks and hairline fissures. Too small to notice until the earthquake breaks it like it was nothing more than the ashes of yesterday.

Yesterday is the heightened buzz of the cheering crowd, it echoes now like tinnitus in the ear. It calls us back again and again to the fields where we first staked our claim.

Like how the woods were our domain.

But while the beer bottles became the flags of my rivals, I never once forgot how to build a stronghold of my body. To steel my face like the buildings lining 8th, to bust through small town walls and create a bigger room out of paint. Let the contents of my mind overflow and expand out like ivy taking over the rose garden, like dandelions and their yellow battalions at arms with the lawn.

I am forever at war with smallness.

Of minds that grew boundaries and never looked past old fences, that never saw the hole in the chicken wire led out towards the ever-tumultuous sea, forgot that the cages built for them would one day outgrow them if only they stretched out their limbs.

Some days I scorn my short limbs that I will forever have to climb for great heights and these vocal chords never grew strong enough to reach the back of the room.

But I shout out all the same.

Like blue jays when the crows are in their way, they drown out the sweet melody of chickadees and the staccato rhythm of woodpeckers with their screech.

They are not sweet.

And they do not bow to the royal red cardinals. They know their blue is just as vibrant, if not a pigment rare and more desired. Like ultramarine on the Virgin Mary. Like lapis in the mountains of Afghanistan.

I was not born from seeds dug here last fall, I do not grow annually, my flowers bloom all year, even amidst broken city concrete. I will be the saturated hues against a backdrop of steaming blacktop. My roots forever run through the city interconnected like capillaries in the body — the subway tunnels beneath a street grid.

The lights illuminating avenues spark electric along my skin, which hums like air conditioners in windows of fifth-floor walk-ups.

I was made of copper.

Like Lady Liberty turning green sovereign to her island. Torch flaming high above the Hudson, and the awe makes it impossible to look away. I rise like storied high-rises when a skyscraper was still a marvel, when we aimed to build the tallest structure in the world. When the world was not enough and we first sent rockets into space. A race to see who could touch the stars first.

The blonde-haired girls in my small town never seemed to thirst for much. I could never get enough to quench the burning in the back of my throat. The arid desert that lusted for a flood, biblical and holy.

I yearn to bow to grandeur to throw my arms out wide, to claw at all my palms can hold to seek out all there is to find.


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Alise Versella
Alise Versella is a poet living at the Jersey Shore. She has published three volumes of poetry which can be found at her website, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon. Her work has been featured on Elephant Journal, Women's Spiritual Poetry blog,, The Tattooed Buddha, and of course here. She considers herself a coffee enthusiast and self-proclaimed dessert whore, who believes with every fiber of her being that poetry, beautiful poetry, can come from the ugliest of pain. Poetry can be the salve for all the broken parts, and it can make us whole.
Alise Versella
Alise Versella