“Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life. Aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something.” –Thoreau

14 February 2015

To the Brand! New! Gym! opening up down the street:

This is the fourth postcard you have made me recycle this week. Sixteen shiny orange corners sticking out from the stack, citrus paper cut edges, neon stop sign print.

GET A NEW BODY! LET US HELP YOU TODAY!

I admit, I've been tempted. NEW! BODY! SPECIAL INTRODUCTORY RATE!

I've wondered: if I slide my credit card across your table, my flesh into your chlorine pool, what miracle I might meet there.

Will your elliptical machine remake the curve of my spine? Take the weight off my shoulders so my backbone can breathe? Will the yoga classes you offer pull my mind away from myself? Will I breathe out the pain in my gut? Will an hour in your weight room make me strong enough not to bleed on the inside anymore?

NEW! BODY!

Does your LICENSED TRAINER know how to stop a stomach from cramping? How to jumpstart failing kidneys? Will she know the difference between laziness and life-threatening? As she sculpts me a new vessel, will she know enough about anatomy to put my uterus in the right place?

LET US HELP YOU TODAY! I'm ready.

When I husk myself, give me skin that won't burn and hair that won't tangle. Make my belly soft and my head hard. Take the tongue that burns when I feed it soda pop. Throw out the pinky finger that can't straighten, the crooked front teeth, the aching feet. Give me working intestines and average ovaries. Make my brain a little bigger and my fear a lot smaller.

Are you getting all that? Should I fill out an order form?

GET A NEW BODY!

What body do you have available in my soul's size?

A body like a house, a skyscraper, a city street. An ocean of a body with blood like tears. Can you special-order a suit to contain my kind of creature? Kevlar plating, bulletproofing. Give me fingernail flamethrowers, and I won't need to hold my car keys like a weapon in the dark.

LET US HELP YOU TODAY!

Help me taste ice cream again without aching. Help me stop the pop and lock of my jaw, the steady grind of my teeth. Help me sing my daughter to sleep when my head is pounding, pounding, God, and help me hold my head up and my fists out when the leering man on the street tells me to smile. Help me remember what it feels like to be safe.

Safe inside my own body. Safe.

No, BRAND! NEW! GYM!

You cannot make good. Your paper cut promise is too small to shape the magic of me. There is no NEW! BODY! Only lots of decaying miracles, weathered husks, all the usual anomalies that make us feel so alone.

You cannot make me a new miracle.
You are only a fucking gym.