Model: Shelly Baer
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

Director, Leadership Training Initiatives, UM’s Mailman Center for Child Development


Unique, I am different

I believe in my flesh and its appetites.
Gazing, hearing, touching are divine, and each body part that is mine.

A miracle I am inside and out, and I make sacred whatever I touch or am touched by.

The scent of these arm pits aroma released as prayer; this broken body finer than desecrated temples, and all the faiths. You ask of being in my prime, kind sir.

I no longer wish my crooked places could be
made straight.
I stare in the mirror now and its reflections.
Seeing, listening, feeling are miracles and each part of me is a miracle.
I no longer want to inhabit someone else’s body.

I inhale and reclaim what was lost when I was a child. I release the anger in my lower belly and genitals and taste, suck and scream. What is prime?
I no longer subscribe to an age, number or idea.

The soft, small hands inflicted with disease caress her devotee; the round butt more perfect than geometry, the young, and all the able-bodied women.

I exhale and sit with my body. I believe in my pleasures.
I lovingly offer this body to him. We stare deep, everything is illuminated. We surrender and merge
beyond our individual selves.

I believe in desegregation of my body. No more blockages, spirit and mind healed. I now believe in
feeling, touching and claiming my beautiful, heavenly, delicious, flawed, temporary home, my body.
I am a woman. In her prime. She was in me all along.


Photographed by Jeffrey Salter