A Treatise on Body Politics

A Treatise on Body Politics

A Treatise on Body Politics 

A Poem by Jennifer Thal

Body politics is being held in matchstick arms as a

newborn babe and Mother murmuring 

in my ear as I greedily latched onto her breast that I 

will not balloon outwards, an order: 

I will not stretch this fragile skin.

And when I did, she chained me 

to a Weight Watchers scale and took

a carving knife meant for swine, excess unkosher

meat on a holy body, and told me to stand still. 

Body politics is slicing myself into fractions 

instead of taking up space; my size casts a stench like an 

overripe fruit, too soft in one’s hands,

and I watch kin storm the temple of 

their bodies and light a match; they burn away

flesh and weigh themselves on judicial scales 

and hum a hymn of starved Enlightenment that floods 

their bone-solid frame of concave worship until they drown. 

Body politics have tried to rip my vocal chords from

my throat like a harp declared broken,

have reached to pluck my eyes from their sockets,

have held me down by a ballet bar in the back

of the stage where I existed as a fatty tumor on the body

of a well-groomed show dog, 

and when Body politics tried to cut me out, the bitch bled and howled

and I clutched onto the muscle of the beast like I did with 

my mother’s breast when I was new and young 

and had just learned what could make me cry.

Body politics are a cult of smaller women posing on black chairs

and asking if I can fit self-love over the breadth 

of my entirety, if I can squeeze into their skin

without bursting at the seams.

Self-love has no measurements:

I have entrapped bony bodies between legs encased in size-16 jeans,

I have burnt my fingertips on the offerings that blaze at the temples

of my 38-inch hips, I have tattooed the zippers of my XXL dresses

onto both disdainful and devoted flesh.

These curd-thighs are ocean waves frothed into rage by wanderers in 

a desert searching for oasis and are scared to drown in its depths;

I watch them blister into dehydrated husks of men 

who claim to drink from all bodies of water.

Hiding underneath this fat flesh is not a thinner, smaller body

this body is not held captive by a caloric tyrant 

beating with fists larded by self-hate. 

This body is no prisoner; I have eaten

men with these hands, I have crushed doubt

with these feet into powdered sugar, I have opals

embedded in my stretch marks. 

The razor of my jaw is but hidden

underneath the protection of diamond-flesh.

When asked if I love myself, 

Body Politics mock my measurements, 

cast stones upon the stained-glass 

windows of my temple.

My tribe of giantesses, regal in our expanse of skin,

with godly hips and bountiful breasts whose stretchmarks

run along the flanks of our flesh like streams, 

Let us serve them hungry smiles, let us savor

the taste when we fill a room, the spaces

in their disbelief. Let us offer the salt

of our burned fingertips and let speech 

drip, sugar-sweet. 

When they ask us if we have self-love, 

let us respond,

Let me show you how much.  

The Shared Taste of Heartbreak

The Shared Taste of Heartbreak

Being Nature

Being Nature