Poem by Angela Gaito-Lagnese & Art by Olga Alexander

Skinny Girl

by Angela Gaito-Lagnese

Daughter-mother bonding over Dexatrim.

Sleep on an empty stomach, she says. Starving 

is the one thing they can’t take away.

I am twelve. We clip neatly printed diet plans 

from Ladies’ Home Journal, slip them 

under magnets on the refrigerator door.  

I don’t even like food anymore.

Pre-dawn race to the ballfield, damp air, 

slight wind, one lap, then two, then three, past the edge 

of the goal posts, reach the fence, tag the corners. 

I don’t talk enough, everyone says, four laps, five, my shadow 

pulls westward, neck stretching too long, sharp jutting chin, 

head swollen with words, but no one is listening. 

Seven, eight, nine laps, not like other children, 

ten laps, eleven, does she have any friends? 

My knees are pumping, the sun is rising.  

At home, legs splay across the worn knobby carpet, 

forehead to shins, breathe out, breathe in, 

sit-ups and push-ups, squats and planks, 

a spin of motion that feels like praying. 

Light on the charts by the 7th grade weigh-in. Hips, 

shoulder blades, spine stand at attention. A full audience,

gym teacher, school nurse, dream girls, a loose 

semi-circle, clapping and whistling. 

Angela Gaito-Lagnese is the author of the poetry chapbook, Squalling (Main Street Rag, Spring 2021). Her poems have also appeared in Nasty Women and Bad Hombres: A Poetry Anthology, The Main Street Rag, and The Pittsburgh City Paper, among others. She presently lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where she is an Associate Professor of English at the Community College of Allegheny County. Twitter: @PittGaito2017.

Olga Alexander’s art series “Feminine Transcriptions” is a body of collages with acrylic on paper (40″x30″) which delves into the perils of self deceptions about feminine identity being static, fixed and predetermined. Olga Alexander is a mixed media artist and jewelry designer from New York who believes that, although identity in a fragmented environment is complicated,  gender remains fluid. @nodescolleciton