body hair

when i was young, i had a pet rabbit
named brownie

i played with him for hours
in the summer, in the backyard
in the hot and humid sun

i remember delighting in the feeling of
the breeze cooling me down,
tickling the blond hair
on my legs

on vacation in san francisco,
i am eleven years old.

my mom has left her razor in the
shower and i take it in my hand,
for the first time and
glide it across my legs,
watch in awe as clumps of my hair
flow down the drain

i don’t stop there
i shave my arms,
my stomach,
reach around to shave my back

i know now, my body hair is something
to be removed

i am in high school, seventeen
nervous around boys

with my boyfriend, one night
i go further than
i ever had before

in the coming weeks, he and i
split up, and he says to me,
to my face

“go shave your dry-ass vagina”

my friend kara, in college, is italian
with beautiful dark, curly hair

she is growing out her armpit hair
her leg hair
her chest hair

and in this small college town,
i notice so many women doing
the same thing

it has always been frustrating to
shave and have to do it again
a few days later

have razor burn between my legs

so, i stop buying razors and decide
to grow out my body hair, too

i hide it for a while,
don’t wear tank-tops in
certain situations
pin my arms to my sides
in public

i am not ready for
their reactions

i am not ready for
what they might say

everyone has something to say
about a woman with hair under her arms

my sister: “i just don’t like body hair in general.
not even my husband’s beard.”

a coworker: “can you lift your arms up? i
thought i saw hair there and i just want to
get a better look.”

a boy i dated: “you’re so 60’s, baby.”

a friend: “doesn’t it bother you when
it’s all sweaty?”

a friend: “if you could just trim it for my wedding,
that would be great.”

someone online: “gross!”

can i tell you about the prairie?
the grasslands that hold
the soil intact?
that absorb moisture,
create abundance?

the soil within the grasslands is
rich, lush, fertile

it does not ask for your judgment,
only cycles through itself
the way it was
created to

i am a woman
i have hair under my arms
between my legs,
and down them

my body is my temple
my dwelling place

for me to take care of
make choices about
to make peace with

last year, on a solo bike ride beneath
the organ mountains,

i stop to watch the breeze
ripple through the black gama grass
like waves

i, too, feel it
on my legs
and under my arms

a part of the grass
a part of the breeze,
no end between us,

just as i am.