For years, when the puff-out above my waistband caught my eye,
My body would sink, pulled down by repugnant gravity.
Disappointed, I’d roll my eyes and think, “You again?”
And the mean, old bitch in my head would begin ticking off her list:
You’re still eating too much
If you exercised enough, this wouldn’t be a problem
You’ll never fit into your skinny jeans again
You failed at keeping the weight off.
But today, I ran my hands from my breasts to my belly
Down over your protruding warmth,
And I’ve decided I owe you an apology.
I’m sorry I haven’t ever touched you with care
I’m sorry I never recognized your beauty
I’m sorry I didn’t try to see your neutrality
in the war I wage on my body.
I could tell you all the reasons
I have treated you dismissively
Or how it was just easier
To pretend you hated me
And wanted to make my life harder.
But the truth is that it never occurred to me
that you needed to be loved.
I never noticed how soft you are under the press of my fingers.
Nor how comfortably the heads of my nieces rest upon your squishy edges
as I read them books or tell them stories.
I have ignored the way my lover reaches for you at night, before we are asleep.
I didn’t consult you before I had a an art-deco version of me
in naked, corpulent splendor, tattooed across you on my left side.
(to remind me I have always been beautiful)
Yet you provided a perfectly smooth, flawless canvas for the artwork anyway.
I didn’t know that you could teach me about loving no matter what
I didn’t think you had anything to tell me about acceptance
I didn’t know you would whisper back,
“You are wonderful, just exactly the way you are.
I didn’t know that when you spoke, your voice would echo in a male timbre
I didn’t know that you would sound like my long-estranged father,
Only warm and kind and sweet.