“Like a swift migrating fish, the word cellulite has suddenly crossed the Atlantic.”
—Vogue (April 15, 1968)
Come, sea ripple. Come, ocean swell
of the world that seethes inside me—make me
shimmer like air on an open fire. I’ve been running
from you too long, my becoming body. My survival,
my second wind. My shoal schooling shoreward, persistently
pressing the rims of its own knowledge. How beautifully you insist
yourself on my ass—the love in my husband’s cooking. And on my stomach—
the belly laugh in my beer. And on my thighs—sweet riots of wild raspberries. Come
swift as a migrating fish with your wake of stretch marks, your currents that curve somewhere—
render me the map of a long voyage, a route for retracing by hand. Remind me I’m better than bone
reef, smarter than shipwreck. Shiver this storm-stilled skin—cast its sun-lent light in every direction.
Image: “53/105 Swedish Fish” by Matthew Bellemare, licensed under CC 2.0.
I started writing this poem shortly after realizing I’d gained weight in quarantine. When I came across the quote from Vogue, I felt drawn not only to its strangeness, but also to its sense of abundance, possibility, and survival—things I sorely craved at the time. Along with that craving came a need to take a completely natural thing I’d been taught to feel guilty about and flip that guilt on its head. My writing had lately felt stilted—overwhelmed by all the awfulness in the world—and it was a relief to see my lines expanding and relaxing as I played with the topic. The poem became a love song to what had survived for me in dark times, and to all that could still be shared: continued small joys, close relationships, and delicious food.