Gloria Heffernan

Show me a picture

They always want to see
the before picture.
Before what?

Before the 100-pound weight loss.
Before the bullies were silenced
and the punch lines stopped bruising.

Before I became
A totally different person—
except I really didn’t.

I have no pictures of my lungs
pumping like an overworked bellows
as I pushed my body up a flight of stairs.

No pictures of my knees,
splintering under my weight like the stilts
that hold up houses on stormy beach fronts.

No pictures of the shivering girl
hiding in the fat suit
that served as both shelter and target.

Why do they want to see pictures
of what they looked away from
in disgust?

Why the fascination with seeing
what they always thought
should be invisible?

GLORIA HEFFERNAN’s Exploring Poetry of Presence (Back Porch Productions) won the 2021 CNY Book Award for Nonfiction. She received the 2022 Naugatuck River Review Narrative Poetry Prize. Gloria is the author of the collections Peregrinatio: Poems for Antarctica (Kelsay Books), and What the Gratitude List Said to the Bucket List (New York Quarterly Books).  Her forthcoming chapbook, Animal Grace, was selected for the Keystone Chapbook Series prize. Her work has appeared in over 100 publications including Poetry of Presence (vol. 2). She teaches poetry at Syracuse YMCA’s Downtown Writers Center.

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