Karen G “Misogyny, in Two Phases”

Misogyny, in Two Phases

Phase 1

I used to see under her pink slips
varicose veins
timber legs.

Weather changes of moods
made my pen move angrily
in crooked characters
stabbing at a diary

I kept locked.

I used to refuse her kisses
the smell of wax paper lips
drawn on—drawn on lines
creeped me out
maybe it was the way she would say
“I am putting my face on”
as though
she didn’t have one
until the mirror told her so.

I feared her thickness, her legs
the standing to all my temper tantrums

The shame of her belly prickled
underneath my skin
flames of questions
of bed squalls

I reviewed in horror
the shapes of all the women I knew
who grew up enveloping me
in their powdered Chantilly

rose perfumes
the cake of their make-up
all out of bounds
the cottage cheese and doughyness
common to white flesh.

I hated it
I cursed with dread

the becoming
the curves

the new shapes inevitable

to my future.
I uttered the words
“I would rather die than be fat”
and so I ran
with my heart throbbing like fists
against a wall to get out, get at me.
I pumped pedals and grit my teeth solid
against inclines.

Against. Against.

Against the feminine.
I cultivated a preference for salt, like sweat
like ocean
instead of sugar

hoping I could will myself willow

always failing.

This was my woman-mother-myself


I held blades to my skin for years
steak knives
potato peelers
pink plastic shavers
never quite cutting to be obvious
just grazing
just lines of snow
just a threat to my skin
and whatever demons squirreled underneath
to defy me, as I was sure
they would.

A classmate collapsed
from marathon running
living on carrots, celery, water.
How many of us envied
her fortitude
her strength against the mouth inside
wanted that gaping wound
of stomach, of appetite
to just shut up.

For so long, I associated weight loss
with a depression
a tropical sink hole
and tightrope of self-control.

Phase 2

I am fat now
and not dead.

I found there are worse
names for things
to die over

a cause.

Natural disasters
all arrive soon

All bodies are weird
the chicken feet of a friend
the parts assigned to the wrong
the sloped curve of a back
the no-ass of a high femme
the grey streaked twenty year olds
the scars, the scars, the scars.

Bodies change

And now my mother is shrinking
a mystery, a puzzle doctors keep testing
for months on end.

I remember the first time she was smaller
than me
frail from chemo, radiation.

I held jealousy slippery

in my hands.

it confirmed an instant
of my capacity for a sick relationship
to weight loss, weight gain.

Now I eat with vengeance
as my mother cannot.
I chew with fervor, anger eating
while my mother picks.
She is states away and I have a taste for sweets now
as she becomes bird-boned, can see her ribs, orders
new pants for knobby knees.

All the hatreds, curses, defiled thoughts
I eat with a fury to stay alive
girlhood fears dwindling
becoming pencil shavings
washed down a drain.

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