Smaller than myself

I was a hundred and fifty-six pounds
When I met you
Could cross the span of an ocean
In one, two steps
Filling up the space of myself
With all the things I knew
My preference for backwoods
And ice-cold Minute Maid
Prone to spilling myself into open arms
And rebuilding my muscles
So I could cradle my loved ones

My stomach was full
So full that you could not see the several bones
Shielding my slow beating heart
My lungs blackened by
A tobacco addiction
And years of standing too close to the flames
My arms would jiggle
My legs and pussy talked to each other
Smushed together in the close confines
Of all my torn jeans
I was a hundred and fifty-six pounds of guts and ass
Personality and self-respect

In the months we spent
Dancing around each other’s tongues
And coloring our hometown with the waters of our pleasure
We used alley ways and park benches as our beds
Walked the streets of downtown until the sun rose over the Hill again
And we crept back between government buildings
Into the cervices where darkness goes to be held
And secrets become monies
I traded alla mine for a little bit of yours
Until you were rich on the most intimate parts of me
And stuffed on my past
While my stomach grew closer to my back

You would’ve drowned in the depths of me
All the sorrow I unfurled at your palms
The stories I was willing to share
The corners I revisited
So you would never again be starved for affection
You surely would’ve been swallowed by me
Had I not lifted my chest from the ocean floor
And cradled you in the sun’s light
Where we managed to stay—
Me, arched toward the sky
You, spent on my belly—
And pass the days together, alone
Sessions and
Intricate dancing around anything fulfilling
Lies, secrets, and gas station food

I was a hundred and fifty-six pounds when I met you
One thirty-three when I left
Starved for everything you couldn’t give
Angry and cold in nothing but my skin and bones
Who would believe I’d spilled all my substance
Into a burlap sack with a hole in the bottom
Wasted my breath on reluctant ears and sheets and funnel
Only to be standing in a shallow pool of my own tears
With a rumbling belly and an ache
That could only be soothed
In time

Ama Akoto (2018)

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