Self Portrait with Snacks

This poem won in the 2018 2-Day Poem Contest

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.

Published online July 07 2018.

This poem was a winner in CV2’s annual 2-Day Poem Contest. Every April, CV2 challenges players to create a new original poem that uses all 10 words of our choosing. It’s poetry under pressure for prizes, publication, and personal bests. Learn how to sign up for the next 2-Day Poem Contest.