The Best Literary Writing About Mothers and Motherhood

Virginia Chase Sutton – Body Image

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Virginia Chase Sutton

 

CONSTELLATIONS

On the skin inside my upper arms are galaxies
of bruises, some as fresh as this morning, one
or two for each day when Mother inspects
to see if I’ve lost weight. I haven’t. She pinches me,
hard. I stick to my diet she says, twirling the skirt
of her new blue shirtwaist dress. You must as well.
The flesh of my inner arms aches and I hide them
by holding my breath and my contusions close
to my body. I’m not allowed to eat much. My slender sister
has no worries, could pirouette in a skirt if she had one.
Lucky girl, she gets cookies for lunch, along with the same
bologna sandwich I receive. My beautiful mother
grows impatient, attempts to beat fat cells out of me, using
the back of her wooden hairbrush. Tender, I keep secrets
at school where I’m tormented daily. I’d love a safe place
to harbor, without star clusters wandering up and down
my arms. Home is where my density is tested, never
measuring to Mother’s standards of how a young girl
should look even as she damages me, laughing at each nip.


Virginia Chase Sutton’s chapbook, Down River, was recently released. Her second book, What Brings You to Del Amo, won the Morse Poetry Prize. Embellishments was her first book and her third book is Of a Transient Nature. Poems have appeared in Paris Review, Ploughshares, Comstock Review, and other literary publications, journals, and anthologies.

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