Finally, I Just Gave Up

It became too much to keep up
the pretense of my desirability —
the empty bed, the silent meals
his eyes that saw through me
with no flicker of recognition…
Finally I just gave up and became fat
letting the lard build up around me in layers
letting it roll into ridges around my hips
and bulge along the cross-your-heart
of my triple D cups.
Feeling myself slip into invisibility
I ate more, stuffing myself with
meat, potatoes, corn and rice
solid food with substance
heavy real weight, working with gravity
to keep me on the ground
keep me around.
I became less visible than ever;
people averted their faces not daring
to look me in the eye but staring
after me in horrid fascination.
Even the clerk at Safeway,
taught to befriend each customer,
gazed straight at her machine and mumbled
thrusting the receipt toward my hand
without touching me,
saving herself for the next shopper
greeting them with rolled eyes and relief
freed from brief alliance with a freak.
It took ten months of starving
but the weight dropped off.
With the help of Ex-lax and diet pills
I changed dress sizes as fast as a baby
rattlesnake sheds skins —
eighteen, fourteen, twelve, ten
eight, six – once I even squeezed into
a slinky black four of an evening dress.
It was vintage clothes I wanted
with pinched waists, low-cut necks
and full flared skirts.
I hungered after tube tops,
tight crotch-pinching jeans
and fluffy cashmere sweaters.
Now I was visible with a vengeance.
The same man who once ran into my
heel with a grocery cart because he
didn’t see me, asked me to advise
him on the relative merits of
Wheaties and Post Toasties.
He failed to recognize me.
So did Sharon, who dropped me
when I topped two hundred,
then stopped me in the mall last week
to wonder why I looked familiar.
I have become president of the PTA
and the flower coordinator at St. John’s Episcopal.
My daughter and only five other little girls
got invited to Jane Jackson’s birthday party —
last year Mrs. Jackson refused to let Jane
attend a sleep-over at our house.
He still doesn’t want me —
in fact things are worse than ever.
Now that he can see me again
he screens my calls, accuses me of infidelity
rages at my make-up, clothes, high-falutin’ airs.
He’s jealous like a dog in a manger
afraid of losing something he refuses to possess.
So last night after he turned away from me again
I walked through the dark house into the kitchen
and ate the Ding-Dongs out of Katie’s lunch box.


©2001 Christine Irving, Be A Teller of Tales

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