It’s old blood, not new, your mother reassures you
over a basin of rust-coloured vomit
post-tonsilectomy. You’d pictured
a more glamorous convalescence—
endless ice cream cooling your gullet
like in Sweet Valley Kids #20 (The Twins
Go to the Hospital). Your devotion
to Elizabeth & Jessica continues
into high school, your prayers
dedicated to attaining
that perfect size six figure. On Sundays
you savour your communion wafer, feel full
of the holy ghost all afternoon.
You consider becoming a nun
for the weight-loss opportunities,
but you can’t stop stealing
processed cheese singles from the fridge,
craving the frisson that comes
from swallowing something whole. In your 20s
you pass as thin for about five minutes, waste it
on a boyfriend who casually says
he’ll break up with you
if you gain the weight back.
Jessica Wakefield wouldn’t
put up with this shit, you think—
but you’re not Jessica Wakefield.
You routinely rip yourself out of bed
for spin class, pulse roaring,
skin roric with a mixture of sweat,
coffee, & CeraVe am—
he dumps you anyway. You vow,
again, to swap your bad habits for kale
wimples & coifs of cottage cheese,
pack plain lettuce leaves for lunch
in a margarine tub—but your commodious throat
demands more. Soon you’re 100 pounds heavier,
sectioning grapefruits into your juicer—
their bitter pith your penance—desperate
for the toxins to finally transpire
through your fatty tissue to the toilet.
It takes another six years to quit
dieting, fed up from the latest
feckless Gwyneth-endorsed cleanse.
You still judge yourself after
every trip to McDonald’s, your ex’s voice
forever haunting your french fries.