Joy Ladin
New Year, New Body

Happiness isn’t

Something you’re born with.  
You have to decide.
New year, new body, girl, guy…

Love tattoos your insides
With humiliating stories,
Teen angst, breakouts and blemishes,

In vitro antagonism toward your skin.  
You look in the mirror
And freeze on the verge of tears.  You aren’t trying

To be sexy.  A tentacle of suicide
You thought you’d hidden
Hangs from the hide

That hides you.  You thought
Your death would soon be over.
You did the routine for years:

Broken-hearted girl 
Hiding in a complete stranger,
Trying to choose to survive.

Girl, the information is out there:
Main characters 
Are not supposed to die

Of the birth of their lives.  You 
Are an episode
You haven’t been watching.

Sometimes you scare, sometimes you inspire,
Sometimes you buy the myth
Of your early demise.  Physically, mentally, socially stripped, 

You wake up sad every day, 
Too nervous to make conversation, poorly equipped
To grow up as a girl, stranded 

At body central.  Whether or not
You change your appearance, this is your chance
To get what you want.

You have that light in your eyes.  Radiant hints 
Awaken in your spirit,
The tears streaming down your cheeks

Together form one big shine.
You’ve lost yourself, your babies, your marriage, 
In the name of a blank canvas,

An innate connection that can’t be explained,
A wave secured with pins, approaching yourself
From every angle, wishing

For that inner wisdom, wild and desirable,
That will transform you
Into destiny.

You feel your body
Is in the way.  Your body
Is the way.  Exuberant, luscious, 

Young along the cheekbones,
Proud of what you are becoming,
Your skin speaks of singing,

Taking on tough roles, swapping lives
With the girl you couldn’t down,  
A hybrid of myth and fact,

Identity and kindness, 
A new year, a new body
Lifting your roots to your crown.

Found In Volume 38, No. 06
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Joy Ladin
About the Author

Joy Ladin holds the David and Ruth Gottesman Chair in English at Stern College of Yeshiva University. Joy’s newest book,Transmigration, is just out from Sheep Meadow Press.  Her other books of poetry are Alternatives to History (2003) and The Book of Anna (2007).  She is currently finishing a study of American modernist poetics while writing a memoir called Inside Out: Confessions of a Woman Caught in the Act of Becoming.