When my grandfather joked
to all of my relatives
that i do not have the makings
of a dancer
because of my belly rolls,
i felt my body go stiff.
Possibly from comatose.
I could still remember how
his laughter blared to my ears,
muting my world into white noise,
unplugging me from the show girls
-my virtual playmates who pirouette
at the melody of heartache.
i was only seven.
When i was ten, my parents lamented
about my size.
Twice big for my age,
Twice young for aunt’s hand-me-downs.
‘She’s just large-boned’ tita assured my mother,
so i was dressed like large-boned women:
office ladies in slacks and starched blazers,
nevermind if i rip or sweat through the garment.
i was the most behave in Sunday school
for sucking the tummy in,
in fear that a button might pop out,
and i have to bleed my fingers
just to sew it back again.
At twelve, i was asked countless times
what course was i taking in college,
and would i ever be interested
in applying for a car loan?
i would laugh at their faces and tell
that i was just in grade school
before scurrying home to take off
these grownup clothes
that fit my body just right.
At thirteen, a miracle happened:
my mother discovered
the surplus section of the department store.
Here, I bought my first pair of jogging pants
They were quite long, and very much blue
like the sky when swans fly.
‘It’s stretchable so it would fit you,’ the saleslady piped,
and the material felt velvet on my thighs,
clinging to my skin as I flit from one errand to another.
In my extensive knowledge of cartoons, I finally understood
how fairies shimmy gold dust
in their wake.
But i did not blind anyone.
Not when a number of drunk workers
traced my footsteps home,
calling me ‘juicy’-
a word printed at the rear pocket of my pants.
For a week, i drained myself
in the bathroom,
bleaching my sky blue pants
into the color of crushed cherries.
The subsequent years were lost
in the layers of mass I wrap around myself.
For every man who would follow me at the mall,
or for boys who would attempt
to write on my uniform,
I would swallow my inaudible prayers with a tall glass
of double chocolate milkshake
Thick enough to stifle
the many names i was accused at.
Sweet enough to coat
sensitive regions of my fatty heart.
I could not feel anything
I only need to be safe.
At seventeen, my security measures backfired.
i began to realize
that the fortress i built around myself
was too cold from the inside.
Slowly, I started to dress less,
trading my elephant jeans into shorts,
my scratchy shirts into sundresses.
Not for the attention of anybody,
but to the girl gazing at the mirror.
For the first time, I fell in love with my thighs,
the curve of my body outlined by a thin blazer,
the swell of my breasts,
the way my hair falls at mid-length—
framing not covering.
Surprised at the wonder staring before me-
how her body grew without any care or apology,
how she was hidden and bubble-wrapped
for the past years of her life,
told not to play with fire
because she has grown a forest out of herself,
and now she’s discovering
parts and parcels of her
that make her feel happy.
Alas, the apparition was only brief,
disturbed by the voices outside the fitting room.
my friend moaning to herself
that she has grown
from size two to four,
my mother complaining
about how could i ever afford to grow larger
when i couldnt even feed myself.
I wrapped a jacket around my heart
who suddenly got a chill from wearing less.
Half-convinced that she would appear
in my dresser the next day,
i probably drowned her when i dumped my sweatshirts to the laundry.
For years, i tried to search
for the ghost of my seventeen year old self
in every funhouse mirror
of friends, lovers, and crashed diets.
She was nowhere.
At twenty four, i gave up.
Resigned myself to a lifetime of recluse
after failed attempts of losing weight
or losing my body to strangers or to accidents.
I decided to strip and lay bare
this flesh of a heart
just for the last time,
prolly let it breathe a little
before it immures itself for decades.
I watched myself undress.
She was there, waiting.
Tucked inside the folds i subconsciously swathe myself with
for every rejection or predatory invite.
Aged, yes. A bit overweight.
But still has the same zest for life in her eyes.
She took me by the hand, wrapped it in hers,
I could hear my heart thunder in my ears.
I could feel my pulse fire in my fingertips
She smiles and welcomes me inside
to this home
to this heart
to this body.