Not Just My Bunions by Bernice Lever

Not just my bunions,
they’re not that unique:
          red balls in summer,
          purple onions when cold,
cracking the shiny leather 
of fashionable shoes,
bulging the sides of slippers,
.            perhaps they miss the beat 
          when I’m dancing
by their legacy of curved space.  

Not just that my whole understanding 
          is deformed:
my nose is crooked, too.
It heads left as I move ahead:
.            of no use, the hours I spent
.            pushing it right with my fist,
.            my elbow braced on a wooden school desk,
it has a direction of its own. 

My teeth, with early independence,
.            left on their own accord,
my eyes keep clicking the dimmer switch
          refusing to focus
on my expanding, free form waistline,
my ears hear their own tune,
while my mouth sings another:
          all that enters me is changed.  

All of me escapes ideal:
         not just my bulky bunions,
there are other things,
.           I have my excuses – 
.           barriers against love. 


Copyright © Bernice Lever. Originally published in Yet Woman I Am (Highway BookShop Press, 1979).


Bernice Lever (Bowen Island, BC), a founding editor of WAVES, literary magazine from 1972-1987, at York University, has published ten books of poetry, Small Acts, (Black Moss Press, 2016),  a teaching English text: The Colour of Words, and much short prose, including “The Waiting Room”, (HBS, 1993). Although her BA and MA in English, York, University in the 1970’s came after raising 3 children and teaching elementary school classes, her passion for poetry began in summer school UBC class in 1963 with Margaret Avison and Allan Ginsberg as some of that staff! Her patience with committees has involved her in the Canadian Authors Association, League of Canadian Poets, Federation of BC Writers, World PEACE Poetry and local writer groups. She has read poems, (some were prize winners), across Canada, USA  and on 4 other continents. She has won four Lifetime Achievement awards, including both League of Canadian Poets  & Canadian Poetry Society in 2000, The Ontario Poetry Society, World Poetry 2008,  and CAA’s Sangster Award, 2005.