The Fat Sonnets

Samantha Zighelboim




Let’s pretend to tell this story. Once, body began.
Then body fattened, deformed. Now body is expiring.

No space for body on the barstool. No space for body
in the plus size store. No space for body in the poetry. No

space for body at the cool kids party. No space for body
on the exam table. Definitely no space for body in the family

plot. Body all that potential. Body all that fat. Body tries,
persists, survives. Body stops trying. Stops persisting.

Body all those nights and all those pizzas. Body binges
and body purges. Body wakes up and does it all over again.

Body the disorder. Body the monster. Body the rot.
Body could have been beautiful but never even came close.

Body the things that could have been helped. Let’s
really tell this story now. Body such a big fat fucking waste.


Imagine How Perfect You’ll Be When It’s Over

the no carb diet the juicing diet the cabbage soup diet
the one day one week one month master cleanse
all your mom’s diets friends’ diets doctors’ diets
the everyone-does-it diet the it-will-be-worth-it diet
the laxatives the appetite suppressants the dehydration
the starving the binges the fingers the raw throat
the palpitations the burst capillaries totally normal until
it’s not replace electrolytes lose electrolytes replace then lose
then replace then lose but keep gaining keep fattening faithfully
keep going back to the beginning the guilt the bread the cakes
the well-intentioned suggestions the fantasies entertained
the liposuction the tummy tuck the stomach stapling
the reconstructive surgery all that skin all that space it’s always
there that space always more to fill always the too much


Exit Strategies

If I’m wearing leggings a top has to reach to my knees in order to
cover the breadth of my ass entirely and I’ve been in anesthetized

funeral parlors-turned-chapels and sat beside a preened cadaver
while a Beatles and Rolling Stones playlist ghosts overhead and I can

only think of whether or not the restaurant tonight will have air
conditioning because I just have one shirt that works and when

I sweat it inevitably clings to my back fat and I’ve held vigil overnight
over someone’s body because they had the misfortune of dying

on the Sabbath and no one could touch them and I guess I can wear
Spanx but then I can’t breathe and I’ll have to leave the party early

because my organs are being smushed even though I look good and why
does the fat girl always leave early? and I’ve gone to pick up someone’s

ashes packed into a wooden box and then hidden them away because
I refused to understand how the box could be so small while I was so big


Samantha Zighelboim’s poems and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in POETRY, Boston Review, Circumference: A Journal of Poetry in Translation, the PEN Poetry Series, and Stonecutter, among others. She lives in New York City and teaches creative writing at Rutgers University.

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