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Hate Is A Thing Without Feathers
By Ali Whitelock
I have always hated my thighs. (is hate too strong a word?)
if hate were a thing with feathers, weeping sores from first
world infections would decline. when she first married him
the worst word my mother could think of to say was hate. she
lived with him for forty three years. with time her vocabulary grew.
significantly. eventually she was up there with the best of them, pulling
one profanity after another from her once feather lined throat like white
rabbits from a magicians top hat. when i read Ben Lerner’s poem and get
to the line, ‘every time, he says, breasts are described in the poems of men
a woman undergoes mastectomy’ i glance down at my own. diminished
since the starvation. from there my eyes collapse onto the exhausted
plateau of my thighs as they spread over the edges of my chair like pancake
batter thrown carelessly into a cold frying pan by a disinterested chef.
in the days before god was born these thighs were so firm birds could
have perched on them. lost themselves in the fertile plain of stoic vegetation
that merely grew and asked nothing in return. hair no longer sprouts
from their lukewarm inners now. tumble weed could blow through the sagging
thigh-gap i used to think was the meaning of life. what weighs more – twenty
kilos of hate or twenty kilos of coal? in the daylight hours i cover my thighs
in black, sometimes blue. i wear my pants loose. i cannot bear to be
contained in close quarters to my own skin. at night i wear my mother’s
pyjama bottoms. navy blue with clusters of tiny pink stars fizzing
away like a thousand champagne bubbles
with nothing to celebrate.
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