Body Image

Every day my body wears me

and I am worn out by its weight,


by its incessant need to be real.

I am a girl half-seeing and half-seething,


kneading my cheeks, grabbing

fistfuls of my back and trying


desperately to recall the conversion rate

from loose flesh to loose change


as if the currency isn’t constructed

on my own feminine destruction.

My mother says that the cost

of beauty is your own divinity,


and there are bruises on my knees

from praying to false gods 

on backlit billboards. I want 

to offer these hands I’ve always hated


like flowers to the altar of womanhood

but my average blood stains it with my sin.


Once, I walked past a bush and saw

a flower without a center. I wanted

to believe it had become overwhelmed

by its own infinitude, but the longer

I looked the more it appeared

to be a victim of evisceration.

Once, someone told me that

looking real and being real

are not always one and the same,

and when I look at myself,

I cannot tell where my body ends

and I begin. I can tell you

that the distance between my and this

when you talk about the body

is measured by how long

you take to write your own name

on a list of definitions for sacred.

-Ivy Clarke

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