From Where You Are Now by Barbara Ruth

Posted: July 5, 2015 in Uncategorized

I remember how we fought
when I was anemic and six and wouldn’t eat the food Mom put on my plate,
the food you paid for and said I’d damn well eat.
I don’t remember buying or stealing candy
or sharing someone else’s brown bag lunch.
I don’t remember being hungry.
What I remember is
refusing you.

You forced me to sit in the dark at the kitchen table
until I’d finished all the food on my plate.
My dog snuck up to my side
ate the meat and bread,
even she couldn’t stand the congealed peas and potatoes.
So I mashed them under the cushion I sat on to make me Big Enough.
Of course I got caught.
It smelled.

Then the pediatrician said, “Let her eat
whatever she wants.”
So each night I ate hamburgers, french fries and malts
until I gained enough weight and red blood cells
for you and I to move on to other wars.

I gained more weight
and more
except for the times sickness and surgeries shrunk me.
The same thing
happened to you.

We made a troubled peace.

Our last time together you tried so hard not to criticize me,
didn’t say a word about my weight
then you went home,
lost 40 pounds in two months
and died.

Daddy, am I big enough now?
Will I live my last two months in agony
like you?

From where you are now – is there enough of me?
Too much?
Do you frown each time you see me
asking for more?
Barbara Ruth is a photographer, memoirist and poet living in San Jose. She is older, wiser and fatter than she used to be.

  1. Ellen Levin says:

    this is wonderful barbara. I like it very much. I also love the drawing/painting/photo??? of you. thank you for this poem reminds me of some things i went thru.


  2. Nancy Gustafson says:

    What honesty it takes to write such a poem. How freeing to be able to get it onto paper. Thank you for sharing it. I think it touches tender places in many of us who read your work.


  3. vigaland says:

    Wonderful poem Barbara. Very sensitive. Hits raw and hard. Nice, tight writing.


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