Self Portrait with Snacks

This poem won Editor's Mom's Choice in 2-Day Poem Contest 2018

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.