This Body

I am not a model

I will never be a dancer

Or a Go Go boy

Or the calendar image for the month of July

But I am everything it took to stay alive

And I’m sorry if that’s not good enough for you.

You see while other kids were learning to fly kites and skip stones

I was learning to stay alive

Learning to hide when I heard his truck in the driveway

Learning to cook so his table was never empty

Learning to cope.

You see they tell you about trauma

And how it makes you do crazy things

Like screaming in the dark

Shaking at the doctors office

Or pretending you aren’t even there

But they never mention the emptiness

The bottomless chasm in the center of your abdomen

Where your will to live used to reside

But so close to your stomach you can taste it

Eating more and more to try to fill it

And when the walls of your stomach stretch like a lung full of air,

You can almost imagine how it might feel to be whole again.

 

You see I developed my first eating disorder when I was 12

The year of broken glass and silent tears

I grew up holding the weight of the family scapegoat

And perhaps I let the weight get the best of me

But hamburgers won’t hit you til you can’t hear.

Soda won’t shut you outside in a snowstorm.

And chips won’t chuck a child through a chamber and onto a chair.

 

I learned when I was young that the only person you can trust in life is yourself.

And that food is a love language I speak to myself.

But I never minded being fat

I never minded the looks

Or the sneers

Or the insults from peers

Because I knew they meant nothing

Like a wind from the east

And perhaps society told us as men that we had to take what was offered.

That when it came to careers

Or to insults or to women,

That we had no choice but to accept

And so I avoided the offers

Knowing that by the thickness in my thighs,

I avoided the unwanted attention

 

But I grew up

I grew into a man and learned who I was

Learned who I wanted

And that it’s ok to say no.

And now I know that weight means more to queer men than it ever did to straight women.

That being fat is a form of gay death

Akin to turning 30 (sorry gentlemen)

And that I never want to shrink to be loved

That I never want to feel that my only value comes from a perceived skinniness.

I am more than the pounds I have lost

Or the tears I shed

Or the carbs I counted.

 

Love is a heavy topic for a reason

It’s not meant to be thinned down

Or made sugar-free

Love should be thick

And hearty

And full of all the moments where you didn’t think about how they might see you.

And all the time that went by when you almost forgot to hate the body you’re trapped in.

But how can you forget to hate it

When every time you begin to fade,

They call it progress

As if the most interesting thing about me

Is how well I can make myself disappear

But you’re in luck

I’ve been practicing.

This poem is about: 
Me

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