The Weight of Words

by Ginger Teppner

When I weighed thirty pounds less, this too was too much baggage. Twenty pounds before that. Even then I was not satisfied. An old friend sent me a picture of my teenage self in a polka dotted bikini with the caption, “you thought you were fat.” What I mean to say is this perception of body perfection has long been an issue. I would like to shed these weighted words about my weight and watch them drift: a cursive ocean.

I imagine individually they float free, yet anchored to me they create a fleshy barrier between myself and I,  myself and you, as I search for a crucial independent variable. There are so many factors to affect: the smell of soap, her patent leather shoes and a wool jacket, the brood hen.

I have written about my body before. A history hidden between phrases, in the guttural breath between words unspoken. But you may have missed my message. My covert intention. How much I hate. It. My body. And how much I hate that I hate this form which should be bathed in something missing. I question how many pounds of words to write away to take this hate away before my daughters learn this ancestral language of repression and denial.

It might be too late. To write away the hate. They, my daughters, already reject innocence of the blank page; already are writing their own version of self- terrorism. No more pink pajamas and tie dyed t-shirts. The prophesy: a nail sticking haphazardly out of the swing waiting for confrontation. Flesh. Vows. The arbitrary panel of voyeurs snap chatting a diet of apparitions. There is no filter meant to expose.

Perhaps I need to go all the way back. To spill and purge severed trust. To eradicate the hiding. The words written in my journal whose memory I cannot contain: egg whites, aloe, a library and the tower. What can all this supple goodness mean? Is it possible to read between the symbols when the deck is slippery, lake temperatures are rising, and blackberry stains?

I paraphrase (or quote) Virginia Woolf and tell my student to write it straight. The slant is inherent. I tell one in particular to stop circling. How his attempts lack discernment. He likes big words, but even as I say this all I can imagine is the old yellow barn filled with boats. The ambivalence of concrete. A new roll of black electrical tape. See? I understand the compulsion to hide In text. There are too many secrets here.