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.