body as law and order

By M. P. Armstrong

this body has been a trial for as long
as i can remember, this life populated with
judges. the gym teacher who demanded
another lap on the track: lazy. the doctor
who warned of the red zone on the bmi
chart: unhealthy. occasionally, a voice of
dissent: the models of michelangelo and
botticelli, with polished marble-club and
oilpaint-glowing cheeks. the unapologetic
and beautiful fat blips on unfriendly social
media feeds. but now the world is full of
jurors. i feel their thousand eyes on my inner
thighs, rubbing pills into my jeans, and my
belly, poking through the graphic t-shirt. and
i feel the pupils emanating shockwaves as
i cough, a leftover from a disease that once
ravaged my body. not the one that lives in
the headlines–not one that will ever even
visit–but one that lives in my lungs, mouth,
and memory. i can tell that the stares are
critical–that is unchanged, though the rest
of the world is–but i cannot read the faces.
do they wish i would turn thin again, not
knowing the diet of debilitating illness that
last stole pounds from my frame? or do they
hope that i am not contagious, spewing
death through my homemade mask? how
do i tell them that the only one at risk here
is me, the risk of both losing an already-
tenuous grip on life and the risk of seeing
my body as a disease in need of a cure?


Author:

M.P. Armstrong (they/them) is a disabled queer poet from Ohio, studying English and history at Kent State University. Their work appears or is forthcoming in Luna NegraRed Earth Review, and Social Distanzine, among others. They also serve as managing editor and reporter for Curtain Call and Fusion magazines. In their spare time, they enjoy traveling, board games, and brightly colored blazers. Find them on Twitter @mpawrites, Instagram @mpawrites, and at mpawrites.wixsite.com/website.


This piece is a part of DISTANCED 2.0.

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