• Isabel Lee Roden


a friend asks me

“where in your body do you hold trauma?”

if i were someone bolder

i might throw my head back and laugh,

might shed all my clothes

and spread the whole topographic mess of me out on the floor.

if you’d lend me a fine-tip sharpie,

i might draw out the map;

color in its rivers,

demarcating the headwaters of my hurting

and the many,

many tributaries through which it flows.

delineate the deltas where it washes up,

making what it finds there fertile,

rich with memory.

if i were someone bolder

i might run hands through the silt.

pretend not to fear what i might find there growing.

i might indulge the manifest destiny,

this mapping and re-naming,

and tell you the conquest of my body;

all the times it has been made not mine,

so like the history of the islands to which it owes its origin.

“where in your body do you hold trauma?”

i cannot help myself.

i ask:

“where don’t I?”

i cannot step into myself without brushing against it

a foot misplaced and i am recoiling,

the texture of something unexpected,

unseen beneath waves.

the way you brush against what could be seaweed

without the merciful context of sight.

Isabel Lee Roden (they/them) is a Filipino-Chinese poet from Madison, Wisconsin. They're currently studying at the University of Minnesota Twin-Cities, pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting. Their work has previously been published in Overachiever Magazine. Roden is dedicated to exploring identity within their work and what it means to be queer and mixed-race at this juncture in history. They can be found on Instagram at @leewritespoems

Header by Andrew Neel @andrewtneel