Holy On My Own by Caroline Rothstein 

Self-love is sobbing fetal position on the
brown wooden paneled floor of my bedroom

in Bushwick the night before I move out;

my torso prostrating back in on myself;

my body, the only G-d in sight.

Self-love is waking up at 5:00 a.m.
at my mother's cousins' in New Jersey

on the coldest day of winter and carrying

three duffle bags, 10 boxes, my hula-hoop,

three garment bags, and half a dozen crates

up 8 feet of stairs at Manhattan Mini Storage

by myself, on a weekday, in leather boots.

Self-love is the ocean. Is folding my blue jeans
on a rock. Is leaving my cell phone in a pocket.

Is soaking my bare soles in the sun tucked

sand. Is placing my right foot on the inner flesh

of my left thigh and opening my arms to the sky.

In my underwear. And a tank top. And saying,

holy Hallelujah, look at what I've found.

Self-love is moving to New Jersey. And
back to Manhattan. And to Sarah's couch in

Brooklyn after three landlords in Queens say

no. Because I'm an artist. Because I'm a single

woman. Because I freelance. Because I am

too sturdy to be knocked to the ground.

Self-love is moving everything out of storage
in my black platform wedges and Forever 21

dress mere hours before the first night of Pesach

and here is me, my own Moses, parting the Red Sea.

Self-love is two years later. Is two more dances
around the sun. Is too many more months than

anticipated wandering in the desert. Still in

Canaan. Still waiting for the tablets from Sinai.

Still waiting for the spies to tell me what

I'm too afraid to find within myself.

Self-love is being 32 and single. Is being 32
and single. Is being 32 and single and four

weddings in a row. And signing five ketubahs

And standing up and standing up and standing

up. And getting my period. And getting my

period. And standing up. And dancing the

hora. And signing a ketubah. And dancing

the hora. And signing a ketubah. And dancing

the hora. And standing up. And watching my

News Feed. And watching my News Feed.

And still waking up alone.

Self-love is tucking myself to sleep in
the middle of my queen-sized bed and

still knowing I am strong. Is waking up

in Harlem. Is remembering Brooklyn. Is

prostrating to my torso. Is prostrating to

my womb. Is knowing that possibility may,

in fact, be one hell of a magnificent God, but

oh, how that golden calf creates idols. How

too that burning bush is but a metaphor. How

the only way out of this exodus desert dance

is feeling whole, holy on my own.


Caroline Rothstein (https://www.carolinerothstein.com/) is a New York City-based award-winning writer, poet, performer and educator. Her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, BuzzFeed, NYLON, Narratively, The Forward, Kveller, and elsewhere. She was a member of the 2010 Nuyorican Poets Cafe slam team, which placed second at the 2010 National Poetry Slam, and is a Youth Mentor at Urban Word NYC.

Booklet Section: Psalms, Poetry & Songs
Source: Caroline Rothstein