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IV. Wheel Spinning

By Natalie Illum

for LAVA

The first time I saw these activists turned
acrobats, I was immobilized as they arched
through hoops, twisting like DNA.
These bodies in strength formations
invoking geology. They carry

something sacred and fragile, bypassing
fear. I hitchhiked, feverish as we journey
without a roadmap to the core.

I could feel motion as though
it were my own, a brief symbiosis.

And even though I shouldn’t, I go back
to rubber necking the crash site
of my own body, mesmerized
by how it flew.

You said that accomplishment is just that,
a simple stretch that grows in your own mind
to mean more. It’s a two minute airplane ride,
three bodies regrouping, prone
on a leather bar floor because we believe
in each other, because

we are all crippled by the world we walk in.
The way experience aligns us into living poems:

land masses of tears, beaches made beautiful
in our mind’s eye. Tonight, it’s just
one fear conquered,
one wound buried,
the ligaments of us
extended and holding. And that is everything.

Added: Monday, June 30, 2014  /  Excerpt from “After Brand New Highway” from "On Writer’s Block and Acrobats" (2006). Used by permission.
Natalie Illum
Photo by Denise Jolly.

Natalie E. Illum is a poet, disability activist and singer living in Washington DC. She is a 2017 Jenny McKean Moore Poetry Fellow, and a recipient of a 2017 Artists Grant from the DC Arts Commission as well as a nonfiction editor for The Deaf Poets Society Literary Journal. She was a founding board member of mothertongue, a women's open mic that lasted 15 years. She used to compete on the National Poetry Slam circuit and was the 2013 Beltway Grand Slam Champion. Her work has appeared in various publications, and on NPR’s Snap Judgement. Natalie has an MFA in creative writing from American University, and teaches workshops across the country. You can visit Natalie on Instagram and Twitter as @poetryrox, on her website, and as one half of All Her Muses, her music project. Natalie also enjoys Joni Mitchell, whiskey and giraffes.

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