The Black Raincoat

 
I remember her
Dressed in a black raincoat
In the middle of summer.
 
Covering her body
So that nobody would notice
She was fat.
 
I remember when she told me
“Don’t wear sleeveless tops—your arms are too fat!”
She taught me shame in 95 degree tropical heat.
 
This woman who couldn’t love her body
And would not let me love mine
Allowed a third generation to grow into shame.
 
And most heart-breaking of all, is this:
She was beautiful at any size,
She was radiant, with charms and talent that transcended the scale.
 
My Mother spent the early summers of my life
Clad in a black raincoat to protect her from mocking eyes;
Yet, in the land of eternal summer, she shed the coat…but not the self loathing.
 
Here I am, years from where it all began
Unable, and unwilling to forget her triumphs and pain,
Clinging to her lessons—culling what I can—keeping the love, losing the loathing.
 
I never wear raincoats in summer
And I do wear sleeveless tops…and
When I feel the stares, I remind myself that I’m worth seeing, at any size.
 
(C) Susan Mason, May 7, 2000
 


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