Tamara Madison

Nobody cares about a thin person's belly.
Flat, even concave, a smooth surface
for a place setting, a writing table,
a cutting board. Not something rounded
and inviting like a hip.
Not something you just have to touch,
alive beneath your palms.
Not a cozy cushion
to lay your head against.
In silhouette, it is a vacant place,
a vacuum, a zero. So what
if it was once full with child,
if it swelled under a sweater,
a verdant hillside,
if it pushed out the navel like a headlight
on a locomotive,
if it gradually fell back later
like punched-down dough?
It was back to its stingy ways soon enough,
taut and smooth like a face with no features.
It's only when you sit that the skin puckers
and the places where it was once full
roll upon themselves in little waves
a series of pouting lips that tell you
what the belly remembers:
I, too, have housed a life.