POETRY: Incidentally—I Don’t Just Write About Bodies, I Have a Body Too.

by Neve Kamilah Mazique-Bianco

You want my words? You want my body. They come from in here. 

I have been penning my brain thoughts and dancing my body thoughts and singing my soul thoughts since I was 6 years old. When I was four or so, I performed my own version of Swan Lake for my audience of one, my mama, three if you count the cats. My costar was a stuffed swan, my ballet bar and movement scaffolding my walker. 

People love overzealousness. Precociousness. It is shocking and interesting that I could presume that my body is something you would want to look at or see move. Amazing that I wanted to be a dancer, born like I was. I didn’t begin dancing as a symmetrical flower hacked down by a storm, scattered, scattered, replanted and learning to grow into dancing again. I always was this way. And I become more and more this way. 

It’s almost like, you consider the unlikely possibility of my seamless inclusion more when I say it’s a good idea. Because I was given the gift of convincing speech. For whatever reason. You believe me. 

But how much do you believe me? How much do you listen? 

Is it just that I am a better writer than I am a performer? That you believe the writing more when the body is not attached? I am not saying you all feel this way. But this is the story of the Beast, Cupid, any dragon, wooing a captive audience, listen to me, before I show myself to you in the light. 

I don’t have the delusion that I am ugly. But some of you don’t like my body much anyway. Maybe I am ugly enough. 

How dare I love dance? How dare I love the theatre? How dare I love the screen? How dare I love the possibility of loving and accepting my body enough at face value, that I could imagine you would love it without me explaining it to you? Without me proving to you first that I deserve to be here? First I must show you that I am smart enough to know that I am asking for something unreasonable. 

I have come to understand that my art cannot wait for Hollywood or television. I cannot wait for what people think they are ready for. I cannot worry anymore that the shock of my form will kill you, or me, when we finally get a good look at it. 

You want my words? You want my body. The words come from in here. 

I don’t want someone less twisted, less nonlinearly-supported, less smirk mouthed, less flashing eyed and dimple assed to play me in the movie about my life. 

How tall do you think I am? I am 4 feet, 11 inches if you are measuring top to bottom. But what do vertical lines matter, in a round world? My wingspan is 5 foot, 7 inches, and I am fed by my wings. They are what hold me up. So what do you think? What is my classification? Do I measure up? 

At the bloody crux of my intention in presentation is my pride, and my shame. The root of radical is “root.” And our roots sting in the beginning, as they try to grow. 

It’s hard, you know, kitten. I want you to want me. And I want you to fear me. I want you to understand your fear and your want. And I want you to rebel against yourself, and your teachers. 

My words and my body never meant to be at war with each other. They both communicate my desires. They both try, try, try. And yet sometimes, when I see that people love what I have to say, or love what another apparently disabled person has to say, what another queer woman of color or gender nonconforming person has to say, what another uggggghhhhhly different/difficult body has to say, and yet you don’t have posters of us up on your walls, and yet we do not make it into your dance pieces, your films, your class rooms, your inner sanctums, your plastered representations, I say, who are your invisible theorists? Where do our bodies lie? 

You want my words? You want my body. They come from in here. 

Do you know how your teacher stays alive? What she likes to eat? How she likes to touch and be touched? Would you love her if you knew what she looked like? Do you only love her because you know what she looks like, and it is okay with you? 

Who are your invisible theorists? Can’t you feel their gnarled claws carving the air? 

We are afraid to relate, not just to each other’s musings about our embodiment, but to each other’s embodiment. To each other’s bodies, without pretense. 

If my words are extraordinary, then my body is too. But it is all also, ordinary, it is made of mud. 

You want my words? You want my body. They come from in here. 

NEVE (Neve Kamilah Mazique-Bianco) grew up in the part of rural, small-town Jersey Imogen Binnie aptly says, “seems never to be shown on TV.” They claim among their ancestors, Edward C Mazique, the physician to the Civil Rights Movement, and Margery Williams Bianco, the author of The Velveteen Rabbit. NEVE is a choreographer, writer, composer, and multidisciplinary punk performance artist based in Duwamish and other Unceded Coast Salish Territories. He/They identify as a mixed Black/Indigenous Sudanese, British/European American biqueer polygender femme disabled country punk. They have been published in Curve, ModelViewCulture, Harlot Magazine, Plenitude, Everyday Feminism, and Maximum RocknRoll among other places. You should never mess with him but you can always fucks with them. Keep up at https://nevebebad.com, https://patreon.com/nevebebad, and on everything else @nevebebad.

Featured image by David Rock Design.