poet, teacher, and dad from the Midwest

Abs

Publication: The Indianapolis Review [link]


I’d like to have the abs I had
when I was 17. If you could see me now,
tubular and bloated, but knew me then –
same height, 70 lbs lighter on the soccer field –
you’d understand I carried not just a six pack,
but the whole damn case. In later years
I’d continue with the whole case. And another.
And another. And countless more, ad nauseam. Now
my abs are like a lead balloon, a blimp,
a Zeppelin filled with heavy metals. Or maybe
they’re hidden in the under layers,
like a girlfriend in a cold house
wrapped in blankets in November. Cozily
entombed. A while back when I complained
about the shape I’m of, a friend said
you could get them back, you know.
But I’d have to give up beer and sliced cheese,
two fat corners of my stodgy food pyramid.
Supposing I changed my eating habits and my moving habits
I could make headway, but at 40 it feels so
unnatural to exercise with the necessary intensity.
Tuesday mornings in the gym I play basketball
where no team goes skins and after, my body recovers
slowly over days as if getting over a triathalon.
Oh to wish for a Fairy Abmother, bibbitty bobbitty boo,
Majestic Abs til midnight. Shirtless and flexing
at the Royal Ball. In this life in a sweatshirt
I’m schlumping with a kangaroo’s pouch
no Princess lusts for. Most of all I wish I’d’ve
known back then, so I might appreciate myself,
svelte, barely sweating, not even out of breath,
waltzing off the soccer field as if I’d never know Death.