The middle school rumor was you burn
more calories than you gain when you eat celery.
So much attention to what was inside
a lunch box then, when I longed to become
buxom and nothing at once, thin as smoke
from a fire right before the night wins—
flickering rib-hollows, shadowed cheeks. It took me
a long time to give up food rules. And here we are again:
Don’t eat for two, eat for 1.15 of you.
Chart your weight and make sure to fit in
the slim margin of increase. You balloon me
as you should. I catch a glimpse of myself
in the sliding doors at the grocery store—an egg
with drumstick legs, round-faced with child.
Still, strangers tell me you look good as if obligated
to be my mirror. They say it like they’re surprised.
In their voice a little razor: I could easily slip
to the other side of their scrutiny—as if a woman
expanding is in danger. As if a woman making
a whole body inside her body could really let herself go.
As if a woman is at her best when she wills away
her own flesh. I used to be so hungry
for loss. How unthinkable now. To nourish you, I take
up space. I let myself grow. I gain so much.
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