Poem: Being quite trim

For a couple of years I have been what’s called careful about what I eat, and have taken quite a lot of exercise. I wrote this as a kind of vanitas.

Being quite trim
January, 2014

At night I run my hands
over hips and pelvis,
relishing my haunch,
lean and narrow like a rabbit’s;
or scrub my ribs,
like a skiffle rhythm section.

I’ve worked at this thinness,
though not yet quite sporting a bikini bridge.

It was something I could do —
careful at the fridge,
exhilarated in kayak, bike,
or shoes with padded insoles.

I am down more or less
to bone and sinew
down to the non-negotiable.
A skeleton worked by tight strings and muscle
and barely enough fat for decency.

It is a look which tends toward the pervy,
when jeans may suggestively sag
or risk the assertively trim,
hinting at the obsessive
the death-defying fantasy
the death-denying fallacy.

But I don’t want to turn the clock back
and time doesn’t bother me much
when it is so easy to live vicariously
and I have so few questions to ask about

I am not for now
dreading death.

The honed scythe,
the labelled bullet,
the starry alignment,
the moment when
Heisenberg meets Crick and Watson
on the path less chosen –
they’ll all do their thing
in their own good time.

And I can’t pray
no, not even
for a healing amnesia,
for a sort of cheerful fog,
sooner than new angers and dreads
dredged up from neglected cortex
or newly minted from sheer longevity.

Rather, I fancy
these chores and choices,
not sacrificial, nor sacerdotal
but aiming to avoid the nondescript.

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Publication date

29 January 2014


RDN's poems