Saturday, June 02, 2007

Smaller

I forget which teacher it was who said not to put a heart in a poem unless it was an actual, beating, dissectable heart. This is not a metaphor. This is my actual heart.

All those years of hearing friends complain about their diets, count every calorie, exercise their bodies as if it were a math problem to dispose of. All those stubborn years of loving my flesh just as it was. Well I still love it, every inch of it. But upon my heart’s alarmed complaint it’s my turn now, the low-fat cheese, the lunchtime walks (so brisk and filled with purpose), the steady tick of numbers making narrow columns in my head. Twenty-five down. I have more room to breathe now, feel my hips amazed and capable of swaying in place of the slow clotted dance they did before. I plant my own hands on my waist and it feels different now, my own body smaller underneath my palms like someone else’s, strange and not. I’m intrigued, want to touch it, test my own response. Like a far-off love come calling: voice familiar, body new. I introduce my thighs to one another, cross and recross them, feel the pivot of my waist. I need new clothes, my t-shirts hanging past my hips, pants slipping dangerously. I need a haircut, a new name. I love every inch of it, love it still – I take up all the space I ever did but fill it now with breath, with the tongue-drum of my rescued heart.

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The body is political and personal -- there's not much of any way around it, especially for women.

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Outside: One of those thunderstorms that begins with a good 45 minutes of distant grumbling, and now a downpour of Noah-esque proportions, rain that feels like surrender, rain running like a tiny river down my driveway. Rain that splashes up in great sheets as cars whish past on Walnut Street. Rain that reminds me I have got to get my roof fixed, dammit.

4 comments:

Garbo said...

wow, good poem and good topic. I liked the part about needing a new haircut and a new name.

Anne said...

Thanks, Garbo! I'm not actually sure that what I posted is a poem, but there might be a potential poem hiding in its general vicinity. Glad you liked it anyhow.

Artichoke Heart said...

I like it, too . . . it rings true with a similar familiarity/unfamiliarty I've been experiencing with my own body, which is smaller than it used to be, and the complexity of feelings that I have about this change.

Anne said...

ArtHeart: Thanks! Yeah, my feelings about this whole thing have been more complex than I'd anticipated, for sure. I refuse to buy into the "thinner is better at all costs" mentality, but it had reached the point where I had to do SOMEthing for the sake of my actual health. Sigh.