Christine Hamm

The Weight of the World

my mother would be the queen of my body
instructing each organ to hum
in harmony with her baroque melody

the doctors tell her I am underweight
a word I confuse with underwear and blush
I see the smile she hides behind her soft hand,
proud of her soldiers: the chocolate laxative,
the prune juice, bananas, the enema bulb like a clowns nose
the suppositories that glisten like worms

after lunch my mother takes
my hand and leads me to the toilet
then stands by the door
she says try for me, Christine, try

she keeps a scale under my bed
weighs me each night
the jolt and click of it
when I jump on thrills me
the way the numbers shift and flow like a river
at four I am 30 pounds
and my teddy bear is 2

but in the morning before she gets up
I have the lucky charms and milk to myself
I pluck out the soggy hearts
and moons from the bowl
line them up on a paper napkin for later

the end is my favorite part
the milk translucent at the edges
reminds me of white feathers
pastel, sweet
with arms like putty-colored pipe cleaners
I tip the bowl to my chin and
drink it all down

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