Count Them

A poem recounting a lifetime of body shaming

Pool day

Shirt off

Trunks on


Cool water on hot skin

Laughter with everyone nearby

It’s fun, it’s fresh, it’s cool


One sentence cuts through the rest

“Go eat a sandwich. You’re like a twig.”

Laughter for all but one.


Doctor’s office

Appointment Day

One good health checkup


Vaccines are distributed

Heights are recorded

Weights are measured


One sentence stands out from the rest

“You’re underweight.”

I’m only eight. I don’t understand


A summer day with sprinklers

It’s time to head outside

and have fun in the sun


Dashing back and forth, laughing and shouting and cheering

We don’t do this often, so we’re just relishing the chance

Back and forth and back and forth we ran; a mesmerising dance


Sitting down to catch our breath, someone decides to speak

“Do you ever eat? You’re a skeleton!”

I don’t know how to respond. Of course I eat. Why wouldn’t I?


I’m with some friends at school recess

We do what we normally do

Walking and talking to waste time


The topics often vary from things we were doing in class

to things we were doing at home and with family

and sometimes we talked about more existential things


A silence falls for a second after one conversation topic ended

And in a panic to keep the conversation going, I say it:

“Check it out, you can totally count my ribs.”

Author: Kay Walker

I write short stories, and post them to my site

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