Tag Archives: Dan O’Connell

Loose skin

I am constantly amazed by the length of my neck
and the sweat on my nose
these bathroom reflections
are new

so is the perfect bowl for kisses above my collarbone
my poise, calm regard – they too are new

there’s just the one chin now
I can readily define both heads of sternocleidomastoid
and that hollow in front of my shoulder
is designed for lips

I no longer instinctively head for the ‘plus’ sizes
but I still leave ample space between my car and the next

my belly and buffalo hump are gone
so are my breasts
reciting the alphabet backwards to C
but there’s nothing retrograde when they’re touched

my hand is a venous delta
it would be so easy to put a drip in me now
I am reacquainted with my genitals
why hello there!

when I lean forward during sex
my tummy is an inverted mountain range
I ponder its cartography
lose my rhythm… but not my breath

I have wings now… flaps of skin that refuse
to be contained by lingerie

there’s a gap between my thighs
I believe this is desirable
to be measured in finger breadths
my fingers are skinny

I wonder if the carbon dioxide generated by my lost fat
has contributed to climate change

I grab handfuls of my skin
wish it could be put on the scales
catch crowded trams
booth seats offer no terror now

I swagger and I stride
look you in the eye
for though this skin doesn’t fit me
I fit in this skin


I have not written much this past two years. I have not had that much to say and have been focusing on another aspect of my recovery from the fires. Since age seven, or thereabouts, I have been overweight – from just a little plump to morbidly obese. My weight has varied like some sort of bizarre sine wave – with ever increasing amplitude. Grief triggers my comfort eating and so, almost inevitably, I gained an astounding amount of weight in the first couple of years after the fires. Managing that aspect of my life was beyond me. I was concentrating first on the essential life ‘rebuild’ – home, possessions, psychological stability – and then on belonging in this new community. Somewhere in all of that I fell in love, with all the pleasant distractions and work that entails. Then, in late May 2013, my gynaecologist made me stand on the scales and I shifted from shameful contemplation of my obesity to action. Nineteen months and 70 kilograms lighter I am at the skinny end of the healthy weight range – the thinnest I have ever been as an adult. I’m fit and muscular and crave salad not cake. I measure my food and go to the gym. I plan never to climb the upward swing of the sine wave again.

My thanks to Andy Jackson, a poet who writes so thoughtfully about the body, for reading through an earlier draft of this poem and making some very helpful suggestions. You can find Andy’s writing here: https://amongtheregulars.wordpress.com/

Brave New World (with apologies to Aldous Huxley)

Posts have been few and far between recently. I have been writing – ‘You Leave Again’ has been extensively edited and a new poem called ‘Mathematical Relationship’ with references to simultaneous equations, trigonometry and calculus. I haven’t posted these since I am considering submitting them for publication or competition – who knows what chance I may have? Probably slim but no harm trying. Part of the ‘Brave New World’ – not as Huxley envisaged, but rather part of this journey of reinvention I am undertaking. It is four months now since I started writing. I am writing less, but hopefully improving. I am beginning to see myself as a writer. Even a poet. Today I had to confront my ‘impostor syndrome’. With the support of a dear friend I read three poems at an ‘open mic’ at the Dan O’Connell. I chose a bushfire theme but did not want to be too bleak and so read ‘Red Band’, ‘Snow Weather’ and ‘Wind’. I am pleased with how I read (despite my tremor and palpitations) and the audience were attentive – one chap even came up to me later and told me he had liked ‘Snow Weather’. He said that he could really see the snow. I enjoyed the reading – even (especially?) the adrenaline buzz. I have no doubt I’ll go back for more. What of the therapeutic nature of reading? Is it different from writing and blogging? On his blog, Andy Jackson described the reading of a poem as creating a room into which others can enter. I understand now what he means. As I read ‘Wind’ one of the women in the audience smiled as I read the line ‘ and with it tug a thousand tiny balloons’. At that moment I thought – ‘you get it, you know exactly what I am saying’ – and felt joyous exhilaration. I could get used to that. So this Brave New World – this new identity. Who am I now? Mother, daughter, sister, friend, doctor, student, and poet. I am all of those things and more.