The problem with having friends is that they want you to do stuff…sorry, it’s my summer break for only a couple more weeks, I just want to lay in bed and watch bad tv…does that make a bad person?
the room gets smaller
when I walk into it
there’s a preemptive apology waiting
expectantly under my tongue
looking for the opportune moment
to help me shrink back into my seat
for the women who speak faster when they order their food
just so no one around them hears
for the women who count their
calories like they count how many people
they’ve slept with
not as a form of pride
but as a pattern of restraint
We are the children who are born
to understand loss
starting with our own bodies
we are the children with scales in
our lockers and
diet books at age 10
we are the children whose
crises that keep getting published
in magazines and newspapers
with headlines shouting
“YOUR CHILD IS A HAZARD TO THEMSELF”
yet we are never told that it isn’t
when was the last time you
ate until you were full?
ask your parents about the last time
you left your plate empty or asked for seconds?
what did it feel like to be that free?
when calories was just another grown up
word you heard your parents use
like loquacious or robust?
for the children who will grow up
trying to transform their mansion
into a shack
there is room for you here
there always was
and why is it we’re always so terrified
“you’re so heavy. oh my god”
You’re right, I am
I’m so heavy I’m drowning
I’m so full of love it pulls my feet underground
so fuck you if you can’t carry that
it’s not my job to be easily
picked up and put down
like a vase or a candle
or a small dog
if you wanna carry me you’ll
have to settle for holding
my hand and walking with me
to the girls who keep trying to wrap
their fingers all the way around
the world can’t be traveled in one day
and neither can you
to the girls who keep poking
at their ribs and turning sideways in pictures
I don’t want you to disappear
sometimes you will be soft
where other girls are bone
sometimes you will take when
others put back
and there is nothing wrong with
we are more than our parents promised
we are more than all of this
I learned how to be big by accident.
I was 10 and I didn’t look like the other girls.
I was 10 and it was too late to turn
the kids had already learned how to wield the knives under their tongues
so I kept quiet when they spat.
I stayed soft and I forgave.
the first few popped up on my inner
thigh when I turned fourteen,
splayed out like white trees on smooth skin.
when I told my friends, they did not look proud.
I learned how to be big by accident.
a patch reached across my hips when I turned 16 and
the white rivers opened up into a delta
on my calves.
I was a landscape.
I was art.
I kept growing and they kept coming
like refugees from some falling country.
“give me your tired, your poor”
I am a city of sounds.
I will keep you safe.
I know I am supposed to feel ugly.
they all tell me that no woman should
look so well-travelled,
but they don’t know.
I am earth. I am sun and skies.
I am the high road, the low road.
I am every poem about skin.
I am a world that cannot be explored
in one day.
I am not a place for cowards.
I am trying to be smaller
less boxy, less doughy
I pinch the soft skin on my hips
until I feel bone
scavenging for the fossils of
someone that existed a
long time ago
I mark every ugly place
on my body with an X
so I know to keep digging deeper
bend all the way over on my bed
so that I can feel the stranger of my ribcage
I am trying to remember
when all of this started
maybe in fourth grade
when I first started walking
like an apology
neck trying to disappear into my shoulders, eyes down
hands on my stomach
my teachers told me to carry myself better
I told them I was too
heavy to pick up
maybe at age 14
when I wished I was pregnant
just to have an excuse for
the planet of my body
or freshman year
when I had panic attacks before every assembly
because of how small the auditorium seats were
I am trying to be smaller,
less dense, less heavy
I grab at the skin under my neck
the skin under my arms
the skin on my thighs
I pinch it until it bruises
I pull and push and prod at it
like an animal in a cage
I think about the last time
I touched myself without trying
to take anything
and I can’t remember
You deserve to be with somebody who will drive three hours, just to see you for one.