Less of Me

by Kevin Boyle

Though Whitman said he knew no sweeter fat
Than that sticking to his own bones
I find myself fairly ambivalent about
The fat I carry just above my belt and in the double
Barrel of my backside, and in the gravitational field
Just below my chin, even in the mystical
Breasts I’ve offered, in the night,
To suckle the moon and the stars, saying,
These are my man’s breasts, drink my evaporated milk.
Did Whitman not befog his mirrors with the steam
Of his showers to hide his body from his own eyes?
Did he, in fact, wander nude about the house
In Camden and Brooklyn, pleased with himself,
Hoping for visitors? I find the black of night slimming,
Wrap bandages about my joints and thighs
Before sporting outside the house, bedecked
In support hose and jumpsuits the color of whale bone.
When I take a new lover, which happens once
Every twenty-five years, we begin cavorting beneath
The layers in winter, and perhaps they think,
Is that he or the sweet fat of a suckling pig
He will surprise me with in the dawn?
I do not reveal myself until they are in love with
My mind, how it can convert caloric intake
Into a block on the food pyramid or minutes
On the steeply inclined treadmill. Oh adiposity,
Oh grease and lard, I find myself somewhat ashamed of
Your boisterousness, your big mouth,
Your trenchant comments on my lived life.
But tomorrow I will begin again the construction
Of the Nordic sauna inside the woolens’ closet,
And, once done, I will not emerge until
My lipids are clean, my face hollow, my tongue
Lolling, my body angelic and thinning
Like my hair. Who will then not embrace me,
Who will then not find the sight of me pleasing?
Oh nakedness, oh eye-full, this will be my truest, sweetest self.

KEVIN BOYLE’s book, A Home for Wayward Girls, won the New Issues Poetry contest and was published in 2005. His poems have appeared in Alaska Quarterly, Colorado Review, Cottonwood, Denver Quarterly, Greensboro Review, The Michigan Quarterly Review, North American Review, Northwest Review, Poet Lore, Poetry East and Virginia Quarterly Review. The Lullaby of History won the Mary Belle Campbell Poetry Chapbook Prize and was published in 2002. Originally from Philadelphia, Kevin now lives in North Carolina and teaches at Elon University.