There was a moment, in fifth grade.
I, sitting on the floor next to those
metal and plywood desks, waiting
for the bell to ring me home to my mother,
home to the street which was flooded
so high I could go out in my bathing suit
and lay in it, could forget about my body
in the late evening sun. Could float.
There was a moment when I saw
a piece of paper in a girl’s hand and on it,
a picture drawn of me. Giant balloon girl,
tiny pin head. Another girl was laughing
and saying yes, yes, that’s just her—and I
stopped wanting to float or fly, like that
the image of myself in a two piece,
hair fanning out like kelp—was let go of.
I let it go. Later, I got so thin
even the principal would say how healthy
you look now, my stepdad would chat it
at the Ameristop, just look at her,
how she’s got herself together.
And I wouldn’t eat anything, not even a piece
of bread. And still, thin as I was, I remember
being sleek in a swimsuit, walking to Cara’s
grandma’s above ground pool. Grandma
whispering just look at the thighs
on that one, me, and suddenly, who was
I, again, gone out of body looking down to see
what was hanging out or over the sides
of the latex, exposing me, round
cat-eye marble in the pile, to the eye
of the one who says what’s lovely.
Now I am a mother, now I’ve let
my body blossom full as a tongue, full
as a crowning head of hair, full as a marigold,
I’ve unhinged and been above my body,
dissolving body in the lake which even
now is flooding all the fields and calling me
to take off my clothes, to take off my skin,
to let everything roll out and as it falls,
collect it in the little silver bucket I’d carry
into the flood as a child, to catch
something lovely, something god-made,
something washed clean and new. Something
ugly, too. To not worry about the weight
of a girl’s limbs, how tired they can get
holding it all in.