Shapeshifter I grew…


I grew up on SF stories of bodies
morphed, transformed;
sometimes under one's one power,
sometimes not.

Diet and exercise can function
as attempts to reshape oneself;
I can almost see
from week to week
the shifting contours
of this battleground.

Strange, to see one's own body
as a battle, but there it is.
You might choose
not to engage in that fight;
after years or decades of battle,
you may walk away.

I read yesterday that we are seven
times likelier to choose "vice"
if we shop with a basket
instead of a cart. They're not sure why,
but theorize it has something to do
with the muscles of the arm.

When our plates are smaller
we eat less. When our soup bowls
are constantly refilled, secretly,
we just keep eating and eating;
our brains look at the level of soup
in the bowl, and do not communicate
to our bodies that we must be full.

It is not as simple as calories in,
calories out. And every advocate of
cutting carbs, or fat, or flesh,
may have a point. Or all of them.

In order to exercise, I pare away
every reason not to exercise.
Store bras in the basement, leave
running shoes, headphones, and sweatshirt
by the front door. Given any excuse
I will not work out; the couch sings to me,
a siren song. And discipline, it turns out,
is limited; the more you use for one thing,
the less you have for everything else.

It's like being a writer, in a way.
In multiple ways:
the tricks I must perform
to make space for writing in my life.
Without them, my house would be spotless,
my closets well-organized,
my yard, my children, well-groomed.

And there's the question
of success. An early spurt
of publications may fizzle out
into decades of frustration;
or, bitterly, the frustration may come first,
through no fault of the writing
or the writer.

Is this analogy too strained --
the body battles the marketplace?
I won't insist on it. But,
perhaps this much may be useful:

The deck is mysterious,
and stacked against us. In the end,
we decide, each for ourselves,
if the battle is worth the fighting.

In the end, we define
our failures, and successes.

Mohanraj, 10/15/2012

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