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Learning Medical English for doctors, nurses and dentists in Mongolia

Monday, April 14, 2014

POEM: Shrinking Woman

Originally posted on YouTube.com on Apr 18, 2013

Lily Myers, performing for Wesleyan University at the 2013 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational. This poem was awarded Best Love Poem at the tournament.


Across from me at the kitchen table, my mother smiles over red wine that she drinks out of a measuring glass.
She says she doesn't deprive herself,
but I've learned to find nuance in every movement of her fork.
In every crinkle in her brow as she offers me the uneaten pieces on her plate.
I've realized she only eats dinner when I suggest it.
I wonder what she does when I'm not there to do so.

Maybe this is why my house feels bigger each time I return; it's proportional.
As she shrinks the space around her seems increasingly vast.
She wanes while my father waxes. His stomach has grown round with wine, late nights, oysters, poetry. A new girlfriend who was overweight as a teenager, but my dad reports that now she's "crazy about fruit."

It was the same with his parents;
as my grandmother became frail and angular her husband swelled to red round cheeks, rotund stomach
and I wonder if my lineage is one of women shrinking
making space for the entrance of men into their lives
not knowing how to fill it back up once they leave.

I have been taught accommodation.
My brother never thinks before he speaks.
I have been taught to filter.
"How can anyone have a relationship to food?" He asks, laughing, as I eat the black bean soup I chose for its lack of carbs.
I want to tell say: we come from difference, Jonas,
you have been taught to grow out
I have been taught to grow in
you learned from our father how to emit, how to produce, to roll each thought off your tongue with confidence, you used to lose your voice every other week from shouting so much
I learned to absorb
I took lessons from our mother in creating space around myself
I learned to read the knots in her forehead while the guys went out for oysters
and I never meant to replicate her, but
spend enough time sitting across from someone and you pick up their habits

that's why women in my family have been shrinking for decades.
We all learned it from each other, the way each generation taught the next how to knit
weaving silence in between the threads
which I can still feel as I walk through this ever-growing house,
skin itching,
picking up all the habits my mother has unwittingly dropped like bits of crumpled paper from her pocket on her countless trips from bedroom to kitchen to bedroom again,
Nights I hear her creep down to eat plain yogurt in the dark, a fugitive stealing calories to which she does not feel entitled.
Deciding how many bites is too many
How much space she deserves to occupy.

Watching the struggle I either mimic or hate her,
And I don't want to do either anymore
but the burden of this house has followed me across the country
I asked five questions in genetics class today and all of them started with the word "sorry".
I don't know the requirements for the sociology major because I spent the entire meeting deciding whether or not I could have another piece of pizza
a circular obsession I never wanted but

inheritance is accidental
still staring at me with wine-stained lips from across the kitchen table.

Definition List:
  • to deprive: to prevent somebody from having or doing something, especially something important
  • nuance: a very slight difference in meaning, sound, colour or somebody's feelings that is not usually very obvious
  • crinkle: to become covered with or to form a lot of thin folds or lines, especially in skin, cloth or paper
  • proportional: of an appropriate size, amount or degree in comparison with something
  • to shrink: to become or to make something smaller in size or amount
  • to wane: to become gradually weaker or less important
  • to wax: to seem to get gradually bigger
  • frail: physically weak and thin
  • rotund: having a fat round body
  • accommodation: change your behaviour so that you can deal with a new situation better
  • carbs: carbohydrates
  • to emit: to send out something such as light, heat, sound, gas, etc
  • to absorb: to take something in
  • to replicate: to copy something exactly
  • to pick up: to learn something
  • to knit: to join together
  • unwittingly: without being aware of what you are doing or the situation that you are involved in
  • crumpled: crushed into folds
  • to creep: to move slowly, quietly and carefully, because you do not want to be seen or heard
  • fugitive: a person who has escaped or is running away from somewhere and is trying to avoid being caught
  • to mimic: to copy the way somebody speaks, moves, behaves, etc, especially in order to make other people laugh
  • obsession: the state in which a person's mind is completely filled with thoughts of one particular thing or person in a way that is not normal
  • inheritance: something from the past or from your family that affects the way you behave, look, etc

Monday, April 7, 2014

Kid President's Pep Talk to Teachers and Students!

It's time to wake up people. this one goes out to teachers. teachers and students.

It's time to get our learn on. And we got a lot to learn too. I don't know it all but I know a few things. Science! You're here. You take up space. You matter. It's just science man! Don't be a bully. Don't even be a bully to the bullies. It just makes more bullies! We can all be awful sometimes. But we can all also be awesome. It's time to be more awesome.

And that's what it's time for. History! We've got to study it so we don't repeat it. But if history does repeat itself then I'm going to name my pet dinosaur Reginald. I just hope he doesn't eat me. [bite] We can't just study history. We gotta make history! And history is made by ordinary people. Ordinary people like you and me and that guy. The world's greatest thinkers Confucius! Albert Einstein! Justin Timberlake! They put their pants on one leg at a time just like me. When I put my pants on one leg at a time I'm dancing. [dancing noises]. You can go by. Yeah. You're gonna be in the video though!

Life is school and you gotta show up. You can't just sleep in! You can't be late! And you can't just hang out in the bathroom that's gross. It's like Walt Whitman said "Yolo!" except he didn't say that but you would know that if you would read a book people! Seriously read a book any book except the vampire ones.

You want to change the world? You gotta know about it. What if Shakespeare didn't go to school? His plays would be even more confusing! To be or not to be... Is that the question? I don't know what a question is, I didn't to school. Anybody? Help me out here? I got a question for you what are you teaching the world? How to be boring? How to make the world sad? [cry noises]

No! No you're not. You're teaching the world what it looks like to be awesome. No matter who you are somebody is learning from you. Everybody's a teacher and everybody's a student. Look for the awesome. Teachers see things they see when you're running down the hall they see when you're passing notes but they also see the person that we can all become someday. A writer or a speaker or Martin Luther King.

Teachers keep teaching! Students keep student-ing. That's not a word. Sorry about that. Here's to teachers that see the awesome. The homework is this. What are you going to teach the world? Do it. Lets make some history. Together. Because it's simple math. Together, we're louder. [screaming noises] Those girls are a little too loud.

Is there a teacher that inspires you? Let them know. This is for teachers everywhere. So share it with them. We gotta make the world awesome! Somebody is learning from you. I'm out! Get your learn on! We're making history. I'm gone! Awesome. [Laughs]