They always catch me, despite my display
of normalcy — the hands digging
into my pockets, my gaze, hypnotic,
hanging over my shoes. Later,
the pretense of a conversation, cell phone
suctioned to ear, the shuffle through
my purse for my drivers license,
my car keys, an extra quarter
for the over-priced coke, for anything
I could pretend to lose.
My clothes give me away.
The t-shirts stretched over my belly,
the denim containing my ass which catches
all the Little Debbies, Coca Colas, Lays.
When thin America is nearly bare in bikinis
and flip flops, toasted bodies flopping
in the water like tails of fish stirred
by motor boats and jet skis, I am marooned
in a one-piece complete with floral design
and skirt — the kind my grandmother wears
to splash kiddy pool with my little sisters.
And while I'm marooned in a lawn chair,
plastic strips striping pale flab pushing
through, they gawk through sunglasses,
run their hands along the inch of fat
hanging over their string bikinis,
and thank God for it.
Mari Stanley graduated from Western Kentucky University in 2005 and is currently working on a Master of Fine Arts in poetry at Spalding University. She has work forthcoming in the Xavier Review and Words. She also serves as a poetry reader for The Louisville Review and Steel Toe Books.