Spoken Word / Tracing Scars

Desperate for sharp stings that broke skin

She covered up the evidence with bracelets and the sleeves of sweaters

Far too long for her short arms

Didn’t want to see what she’d done

She was told cutting her wrists was a “cry for attention”

That she “wanted to be caught or she would have hidden it better

Under jeans or on her back”—

That only gave her ideas she had to fight down

Lines scattered across ribs that caged in lungs bereft of air

Lines weeping evidence of a depression she was told didn’t exist

Told to be stronger

Told you’re only pretty when you smile

When some days it takes hours in front of a mirror to pin that grin on

Torn between ending it all and proving them wrong

The temptation of the sudden surge of popularity on social media ever present in her mind

She saw countless kids at her school fail to reach out,

Instead reaching for the hands of others who’d gone on before

Following a dark path instead of leading their lives in a new direction  


Her drive to succeed, the hunger to JUST BE

In the end it outweighed everything else.

She stopped hiding,

Traded her wrists for canvases, charged her paint with brash strokes

The physicality and process of creating something so completely her own

Grew into a new addiction, a different way to cope

To call back feelings when her mind went numb

Creation replaced destruction as a way of finding release.


For many years after her fall from grace you could still see the scars on her arms.

But sleeves gradually shortened

No longer stretched over bracelets, beaded and woven

Bright circles of metal replaced areas once covered by bandages

Bright mixtures collected from travels became reminders

Of why she shouldn’t cut anymore

Bracelets morphed from disguises to badges of love

Gifts to remind her that there were others who cared   

That there were other ways to cope with depression that didn’t involve medication

That there was no shame in confessing she needed help or a hug


Mix up all these pronouns, he – she – we – us – them – ME

Replace she with I because this is my story and these are my scars,

Shallow enough that they faded with time

These days I wear them with pride

Though these scars were once embarrassing,

They catalogue my story, they act as storytellers

Speaking to all that I’ve overcome

Why should I cover them up with make-up, overdress them

When they’re best seen bare, framed by gifts given to me by those I love

San Francisco, Puerto Rico, Turkey, the Philippines 


These scars have joined those that came from drama, comedy, and tragedy

But I don’t hide them and pretend they’re not there

There’s a heck of a story to go with my scars

Ones that rank with the times I’ve dived off cliffs and slid down mountains

I’m not afraid to be associated with what I once felt made me flawed

They’re simply a part of me,

Marks of a life experience etched on my body

More permanent than any inked tattoo


The pain I felt and dealt with moved me to reach out to others

Instead of falling deeper into myself

My scars remind me that life sometimes destroys parts of our lives

But it allows us room to create and replace what’s been lost to the times we go numb


I won’t be ashamed of my scars

So don’t be ashamed of your scars

They’re part of you

They tell your story

They’ll remind you how precious you are and how far you’ve come.