Thursday, January 05, 2006


You know that thing called "voice"? Well, Suzanne Coker's got it. Her poem "Weight, Lost" is one of my all-time faves... if only this blog included a way to watch her read it!

Weight, Lost

Mother says I’m too fat
and so does this boy
at the pool, and so does
my second-best friend Kelli.

my mom, Kelli and me
all join Weight Watchers

and it’s fun. I mean
the food is gross but
Mother and I laugh about it,
which is something we never do
together. We try recipes and
learn more about salad
than anyone should ever know.

Kelli does great, she has
discipline, but Mother and I
have more like guilt.
The pamphlets say we
should talk about this
at meetings but no one
ever does, so we keep
quiet, sneak an extra
slice of bread.

That’s fine for Mother,
she’s old, but I still
have to worry about that
boy at the pool, so I
exercise a lot, strip down
the food plan as far as I can,
time my resistance. How long
does it take the dream
of fake ice cream to force me
into the kitchen? Fifteen
more minutes. Twenty more
sit-ups. I can do this.

Everyone is so proud of me.
Now I’m smaller than Kelli.
I get to know
my own bones.

Except Mother and I don’t laugh
anymore, and Kelli never comes over
to draw and play music. When school
starts again, we go different places.
High school is big and loud,
like prison in a movie.
Many girls are thinner.

I stay up late to watch tv,
stop delaying meals, soon
I’m too bored to exercise.
At weigh-in, Ms. Donna
won’t meet my eyes, but
the numbers she writes down
keep on getting smaller
which is what counts.

Then one day Donna is gone.
Word goes around she was fired
for lying to us. The new counselor
says I’ve gained eleven pounds.
So what. I raid the kitchen at night,
shovel down cookies and sandwiches,
the den flickering with reruns.
My clothes are so tight they leave welts.
Mother refuses to buy new ones, because
I’ve been ungrateful--

I don’t care. I smile as
my body grows,
hips, thighs, boobs,
out of anyone’s control.
My weight says fuck you,
this is for me,
these secret meals,
this burning lonesome light.


Your love for your children is all important
but not all consuming. Another myth falls.
My mother was consumed, she said, by her love
for us, my brother and I, catalysts for that hollowness
that husked her year by year. We
held her in place where love could get at her
its terrible fangs gnashing all that was good in her,
originality, intelligence, common courtesy.
Love swallowed love, that’s all I could think,

And it doesn’t. Not even her love.
It was never love that sucked her dry,
hers for us was maybe one
of the first casualties. The man
takes a drink, then the drink
takes a drink, then the drink
takes the man–goes for women, too.

Many truths of my childhood are still unexploded.
I don’t say this from self pity,
only so that you will be aware.
I’ve learned how to disarm them
and sell them for scrap metal. Just
let me warn you where to step.


Blogger Michelle e o said...

I really love this writer. I don't even have to relate to her content to be drawn into her. I love that.

12:02 PM, January 06, 2006  

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