Letting Myself Go

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.

Sara Moore Wagner

SARA MOORE WAGNER lives in West Chester, OH with her husband and three small children. She is the recipient of a 2019 Sustainable Arts Foundation award, and the author of the chapbook Hooked Through (Five Oaks Press, 2017). Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in many journals including The Cincinnati Review, Tar River Poetry, Harpur Palate, Western Humanities Review, and Nimrod, among others. She has been nominated for a Pushcart prize, and Best of the Net. Find her at www.saramoorewagner.com.

Contributions by Sara Moore Wagner