The winter my waist shed six inches,
my period stopped. My breasts depressed,
the skin around them slacked sackkish
and loose. I became like burlap and this calmed
my hands. I no longer had a belly to pinch.
My throat withstood the aftermath
of meals. I sucked lemons after losing
to cool and clean cuts from biled food
clawing. All this to say that when it stopped,
I was glad. Tampons at the bottom of my bag
became flattened but I kept them on hand
to hand to girlfriends in need before gym class.
I told my mother how sick I must be. She paid so much
attention to me we forgot my sisters, who held pencils
in their hands late into the night, who held hands
in church parking lots, laughing with communion
stuck to the roofs of their mouths. They did not take
the host from the priest, pretend
to swallow, slip it into their pockets. They wrote
nice letters to each other, slipped them under
bedroom doors, borrowed each other’s blouses
and blouses forever. They loved Sunday night
strawberries and ice cream in front of the tv.
They did not feed the dog their breakfasts.
Mabel would learn to love French toast, get fat
and sick and her paws would shake from old age
but I would imagine it as all the sugar I gave her
and feel a wave of shameful indulgence. I would
no longer bleed and cramp and share. I would say
I hoped to be clean and thin forever like this
but in secret, I felt unabashedly dry, abnormal
and light. For two years this continued.
For two years, I burned the woman
right from me, forgot all the women around me.
Mallory Tater is a poet and fiction writer from Ottawa. Her poems have appeared in PRISM International, CV2, The Malahat Review, and Poetry is Dead. She has work forthcoming in Carousel, Little Fiction, and Room. Last year, she was shortlisted for Arc Poem of the Year Contest and placed third for the Bristol Poetry Prize. Mallory is currently pursuing her MFA at the University of British Columbia.