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TONYA CHERIE HEGAMIN

writer, educator, radically imperfect.

Resilience Is A Beautiful Thing
Or, The Doctor Asks Me To Consider Weight Loss Surgery

(What you eat don’t make me shit. –Jay Z)

My beauty has layers you will never comprehend.

My layers have layers more complicated than cake.

Haven’t I been cut down enough?

My body is not yours. My health is my own!

My layers have beauty you cannot behold.

My curves and ripples smash your square pegs.

You see me a tin of minced meat,

yet I have already severed myself

and sewn in all the candy hearts

with more precision than any surgeon.

My fat has protected and comforted me through cultural abuse.

It has wrangled me from suicide,

branded me with its sigil for my future powers.

I embody the bounty of Creation.

Foundation from my ancestors,

the ones that transformed your bland colonial diet.

The ones who knew their beauty could never be owned.

Their ghosts are as essential as the soil,

as elemental as the sea.

You cannot cut them from me.

Flesh is the flimsiest layer,

manipulated and undulating

sister to fantasy: of me but not me.

I used to dream of slicing myself open

to chuck the fluff and texture, then

sew it all back together

“the right way”:

with flimsy plastic and sharp edges.

My layers have layers you will never comprehend.

In between are all the nuanced strata of resent

for the wretched systems you build

to conform me, convert me, contain me.

All the locks I have picked, the puzzles I unfurled

and now you tell me to hack apart my prize.

The frosting of my survival

has nothing to do with the flowers that made me.

I learned to jiggle and juggle the present and future

while standing tiptoe on a burning shit box of the past.

My body is my own.

I am the only architect of my triumph.

I hold the sledge hammer of happiness.

I only use the scaffolding and tools

given me by the universe; I do not own the plans.

I do not expect the fruits, I focus on the labor.

Every step forward is an application

for self-employment.

My health is not yours. I exist on my own terms.

I gave my hair to the river; I’ve wept for the fallen deer.

My organs may fail, my mind might fall to disarray,

but I have lived a thousand lies your science cannot detect.

I have read all of your books, studied your ways, conformed

for your comedy.

What have you sacrificed for me?

There is no compensation for these tribulations.

No quick fix or suppressant.

My twinkle would explode the vaults

where you hide your preciousness.

You fear I will Super Nova your ass.

For every shimmering stretch mark,

each curiously healed scar,

even the cookies and the kale

are all a testament, an experiment

that led to this inevitable unfathomable conclusion:

My body is not yours. My health is my own!

©Tonya Cherie Hegamin