{poetry friday: freedom overdue}

Periodically, we all need to be reminded that we merely reside in these bodies; it’s our souls that count.

For that reason I selected this 2004 Coretta Scott King Award winning poem from Marilyn Nelson’s THE MANUMISSION REQUIEM collection. The poem is entitled “Not My Bones.” Follow the above link to hear her read a bit of the book’s preface.


I was not this body,
I was not these bones.
This skeleton was just my
temporary home.
Elementary molecules converged for a breath, then danced on beyond my individual death.
And I am not my body,
I am not my body.
Tanita Henna 1.1
We are brief incarnations,
we are clouds in clothes.
We are water respirators,
we are how earth knows.
I bore light passed on from an original flame; while it was in my hands it was called by my name.
But I am not my body,
I am not my body.

You can own a man’s body,
but you can’t own his mind.
That’s like making a bridle
to ride on the wind.
I will tell you one thing, and I’ll tell you true:
Life’s the best thing that can happen to you.
But you’re not your body,
you are not your body.

You can own someone’s body,
but the soul runs free.
It roams the night sky’s
mute geometry.
You can murder hope, you can pound faith flat, but like weeds and wildflowers, they grow right back.
For you are not your body,
you are not your body.

You are not your body,
you are not your bones.
What’s essential about you
is what can’t be owned.
What’s essential in you is your longing to raise your itty-bitty voice in the cosmic praise.
For you are not your body,
you are not your body.

Well, I woke up this morning just so glad to be free, glad to be free, glad to be free.
I woke up this morning in restful peace.
For I am not my body,
I am not my bones.
I am not my body,
glory hallelujah, not my bones,
I am not my bones.

Tanita Henna 1.2

I don’t really know what my henna experiments have to do with the poem, except as a parallel to the reminders we give to ourselves that every external issue we have – with our weight, our hair, our smiles, our heights, our teeth, our scars, our skin – none of it is relevant. We are beings housed in flesh, but this is not all of us.

I am not this body.

I’m so grateful to Kidlitosphere Central, which has the main calendar for Poetry Friday roundups. Today the celebration is at Cousin Mary’s Lee and Franki’s place, A Year of Reading. Happy Friday to your non-corporeal spirit.

4 Replies to “{poetry friday: freedom overdue}”

  1. Thanks for the reminder. (You’re right — especially relevant in the summer when our body is more “out there.”)

    Hope all is well on your side of the pond!

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