Poems About Body Parts

#NaPoWriMo Poetry Prompts

Photo by How-Soon Ngu on Unsplash

I don’t recall where this idea to “write a poem to part of your body” came from, or even if it came from a prompt. The idea may have come to me spontaneously, but I wrote the poem at the end of this post during NaPoWriMo 2018, and I did make use of prompts from many sources that month. So . . .

Poems addressing body parts often have a humorous tone. One of my favorites, “Homage to My Hips” by Lucille Clifton, spans the spaces between history, humor and wisdom with miraculous elegance. Here are a few of the poem’s inspiring lines:

these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.

As a young woman with some wide hips and a rebellious nature, I found the poem validating of my body and encouraging of my desire to be free of other people’s control. Every time I read it, I wanted to write a poem about some part of my own body.

Take a few minutes to meditate on your own body, and write notes as you do. The notes can be words, images, sketches, anything. What are the parts of your body you love best? The parts that give you trouble? The parts that clearly come from an ancestor? It might be that there’s a part of you that fits all these definitions and more.

The poem below, originally published in Mezzo Cammin, is about my feet, which I was quite vain about at one time. One foot later gave me trouble, but both come from my grandmother, Ulma Lee Sharpe Christie.

Defective Mirror Image

I hate to say that one of you
has disappointed me. In lieu

of that, I’ll say you’re different.
One perfect, one discontent

as hell. To think, I bragged on both
of you, and decked you out in hosts

of toe rings, fancy shoes and polish.
You’ve stuck together in your smallish

way, resorting to irony.
My left foot won’t embarrass me.

But this right one — she isn’t right at all.
Bunion, hammer toe, odd ball.

Words in NYT, WaPo, Oprah Mag, Poets&Writers, et als. Adoptee/high school dropout/hep C survivor/former trial attorney. @MicheleJSharpe & MicheleSharpe.com

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