Eighteen then, forty two now –
That makes twenty four years.
My waist at eighteen was thirty –
I still had puppy fat – my measurement
At twenty four, twenty three.
Now at forty two, I record a thirty five.
I learned to eat again but
The price of that was padding.
Twenty four years since you failed
In your claim of ownership –
Twenty four years since
I won and you lost – if winning
Is what it means to allocate your years
In sections, twelve in each then
Divided out again into fours.
There are seven days in a week
And every one of those days
Is filled at some point
With a thought
No wonder I’m fat
I seemed to be always wearing his hands.
Thumb and finger on my earlobe, squeezing
a bit too hard – why were you talking to him?
You were seen. Hand moves under my hair,
finds the roots, discreetly pulls. They watch,
you know. My friends, they tell me everything.
People think nothing of it – just some bloke,
seeing to his lass. Got your ‘ands full there mate –
collusion winks across the room, eyes on my breasts
in this tight little dress. Close to my ear – I could
have killed you, you know. Taken you up the fields
where nobody would see. I nearly did.
This is what pretty gets you – this, I learn is what comes
of slinking in velour. I used to dance in high heels.
My throat feels like a paper cup under his circlet.
Tears trigger his manly protection. Now then.
Don’t spoil your face. Erection against my thigh,
knee between mine, the bus shelter whines
behind my back. Don’t do it again.
I am clean
My thoughts chunked in porcelain shapes –
a tea cup, spatchcocked
on the floor marks where I lost my concentration.
I was mouthing milk and sugar
when it came to me again. My brain spills.
I sandbag with my hands.
Stones at my bedroom window, tap, tap.
My eyes grit, mouth a rat’s nest –
tap. Him on the curb. I just want to talk, he smiles.
A curl that is more thin line,
does not reach his eyes. A light flicks on next door –
a curtain twitches. I open the door,
his hand spans the gap. My heart is high. I just want
to talk. Walking behind me
up the stairs, I hear each footstep, weighted with breath.
I open my eyes. He is stroking my hair.
There, he says, cold as dawn. Cum, crisp like a burn graft,
films my thigh. I think of my favourite things –
pencils, ponies. That painting I love,
the Valpincon Bather; wonder if one day, I could paint
as well as that. Her neck,
arched like a Camargue mare turned to scent the water –
hair, bound in twisted wrapping,
lest it spill, mar the pastel fleshing of her back. A hand
that rubs the covering of white sheets,
perhaps to tell them I am clean. I am clean.
Jane Burn is a writer and artist who was originally born in Yorkshire, but has lived in the North East for the last twenty years. Her poems have been published in a variety of magazines, including Butcher’s Dog, Obsessed With Pipework, The Black Light Engine Room Magazine, The Interpreter’s House and The Rialto. Her work has also appeared in anthologies from The Emma Press and Kind of a Hurricane Press. Jane’s first and second pamphlets are Fat Around the Middle was published in 2915 by Talking Pen and Tongues of Fire, published in 2016 by The Black Light Engine Room. She established the online magazine, The Fat Damsel in 2015.