A Love Letter to My Body by Amanda Kieffer
My body, my love, how terribly I’ve missed you. Do you remember the night we wept? The night I touched you for the first time since . . . I can’t remember when. I asked your forgiveness a hundred times. I had to make up for all the nights I spent ignoring you and asking forgiveness from that ridiculous Man in the sky. I thought you were His. I thought He was angry because I wanted to know your secrets and your secret places. I was ashamed of myself and I was ashamed of you . . . of your sensual motions . . . of your dark spaces . . . where only men, well, only one man is supposed to go. I am forbidden. So they say. If I explore your depths in secret it’s a sin and the Man in the sky will be angry, perhaps for Himself, perhaps for that one man on whose territory I am trespassing. Never speak of such a transgression! Everyone will be shocked, embarrassed, horrified. Well . . .
I want to touch you everywhere! If I could, I would kiss you everywhere. Your temples, your toes, your shoulders, your shins, your breasts, your belly, your neck and nose . . . Oh, how I love your every part! And as for that warm, dark center—what man dares to enter?! Do you know, man, what happens here? Can you understand what is shared between us? Do not intrude. Do not presume you are welcome. Draw near in humility, respect and love and we may let you pass. These are sacred waters.
Oh, my body, my love, for so long I was ashamed of my feelings for you and so I loved you poorly. You’re too big, too pale. I know what people think. I hear them talk about bodies that look like you. I hear their jokes. I see the way you’re depicted in films, television, magazines. I notice when your image is absent. I hear the songs they sing about you. I have been with you for every insult, unwelcome touch, objectifying look. I hear what they say when you bleed. When you grow hair in odd places or even in normal ones. I know . . . I know. And you know how ashamed of you I have been. How embarrassed I have been by your size and shape, your color, your skin, your slowness. You know how I have neglected you, hidden you in shame, ignored you for fear of facing the unbearable reality that you are, indeed, repulsive, weak and undesirable. I know what people think. I learned to think the same. But no more!!
My love, do you know how much I love you? Forget all these ignorant tyrants. There is so much strength in you! So much beauty I can barely contain myself. Your skin, your hair, the curve of your flesh. And, oh! When you move!! The grace, the power. My Goddess, you’re a miracle. How can they not see? How can they not know? Well . . . they will never know the secrets we have shared . . . the sorrows . . . the pleasures. Who knows what else we will find in the darkness together? Some terror, perhaps, but oh the chance of finding joy! You are my delight! Without you I am cut off from the sweetness of wine, the sparkle of stars, the rush of wind, the squish of grass. Without you there is no world. Without you I cannot live!
How long have I tolerated such distance between us? How long have I set myself against you in futile attempts to appease and please those who abuse and slander you? Forgive me, lover. You do not belong to that appraising Man in the sky. You do not belong to the judgmental and controlling religion or culture that He has spawned. You do not belong to me. But we belong together. We are. And I have sinned against you. So I confess to you. And you forgive me before I am done, for even my confession cannot exist without you. You. I. We. We confess. We forgive. We love. Between us there is no shame.
Be patient with me, love, as I learn to love you better. I want to give you good things and sometimes I do not know how. Sometimes I know how and find it difficult anyway. We will fail many times, at many things but . . . no matter. At least we are together. You are my life. You are my first love. I will always come back to you. You have my whole heart.
This is my solemn vow: To love and to cherish you, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, as long as we live, till death brings us into that final dark space where we become the ground of life for new bodyspirits to spring forth. I make this vow before the whole world, before my sisters and brothers who will support and encourage and before the patriarchal machine with its God/s and attendants who will not. Let it now and forever be said—What Goddess has birthed into being, let no man or woman put asunder.
Amanda Kieffer is completing her Master of Sacred Theology degree at Boston University School of Theology in Practical Theology, concentrating on Narrative, Aesthetics and Trauma. She also received her M.Div. in Hebrew Bible from Boston University and has her B.A. in Christian Ethics. Amanda loves finding new ways to weave together her passions for creative writing, feminist narrative, embodiment, spirituality and myth, both ancient and contemporary.