• Susanne Bostick Allen


What if I’m so fat I won’t fit through the door?

Will they still like me?

I lost 35 pounds

on Dr. Frank’s protein-sparing liquid fast.

On my way to the ladies’ room

I hear Now, Susanne, she’s lost a lot of weight…

catch the culprit’s eye.

The group shuffles, grins

changes the subject.

Dude in the elevator: Looking good.

Checks me out, leers at me

above the waist.

Who would like me when I don’t like myself?

David says You don’t hate yourself.

I say You don’t know what you’re talking about.

I have lots of reasons to hate myself.

Gaze into the mirror:

I’m on the outside looking at two of me.

Self staring at Susanne

Susanne staring at self.

In my bathroom mirror

ladies’ room mirror at the office

have to break the spell.

How to break the spell –

touch something real – my face?

There’s no there there

but I’m in here somewhere.

Flying Delta to Atlanta to visit Mama

my flab escapes airplane seats.

I ask for the seat-belt extender.

Attendant stage-whispers:

Here’s what you wanted.

Scarlett O’Hara’s 18-inch waist

smallest in three counties.

Southern belles take their afternoon nap.

Scarlett grips the banister

draws a long, deep breath

as Mammy laces her.

I wouldn’t have suffered corsets, would I?

Hide Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

as if David couldn’t see it in the fridge.

Eat Breyer’s Chocolate Mint where no one can see

in the ladies’ room at work.

Hide CVS chocolate chip cookies

under the vanity sink at home.

Eat Häagen-Dazs Mint Chocolate Chip in the car

in the Giant parking lot on Columbia Pike

in the Safeway parking lot at Bailey’s Crossroads

with a plastic soup spoon.

I’m invisible.

No shoppers can see me.

Strip of yellow legal paper taped on the bathroom wall.

Weigh myself four times a day

write it down for David to see.


If I stare at the scale long enough

the number that makes me cringe

will dwindle.

It’s okay to take up space in the world.


Susanne Bostick Allen grew up in Georgia and has lived in the Washington metro area since 1977. She wrote and edited government publications from 1972 until 2009. She has been writing poetry since 1979. In 2016, she earned an M.A. in Art + the Book at the Corcoran College of Art. She is a singer and soloist who has performed in community theater and choruses, opera, and church choirs.

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