by Clara Silverstein
Trespassing at the Homeplace
I know every invasive, every bulb with ruffled purple fisted in its center, the rock wall’s shine of poison ivy, and the willow, a spangled cathedral for remains of our pets. Someone else is taking shelter under the forsythia, its splinters of yellow each dreary March, and the dogwood that sprawls but never flowers. The cedar now soars above the window where my daughter greeted a robin family, its babies quivering with need, boughs cradling walls, its trunk an old friend.
Don’t Call My Daughter Fat
My only refuge from fat was the swimming pool, the water’s unconditional acceptance of the stomach I began hating in third grade when I saw it shake as I giggled. I had grace and poise in its turquoise depths, as I power-kicked away from boys who planned dunks and splash raids, surprise attacks on girls they liked. I joined in the whooping and revenge until my fingers shriveled, and it was adult swim. I had to climb the ladder, reclaim swaths of waistline that filled me like ballast. I thought I could outsmart my appetite, giving it water when it wanted bread, chewing a cookie, spitting it out, though I drew the line at vomiting. All my bargaining added up to years of calories counted, cheated, burned, a vessel of miscalculations warning my daughter to swim away. --- Clara Silverstein is the Boston-based author of the historical novel Secrets in a House Divided (Mercer University Press), the memoir White Girl: A Story of School Desegregation (University of Georgia Press), and four non-fiction books. Her poems have appeared in journals including Blackbird, the Paterson Literary Review, the Comstock Review, and at Boston City Hall. She works at a history museum and teaches at Grub Street Writers in Boston.