Pooled in Ripples

By Holly Pelesky

December 24, 2018

Pooled in Ripples

I wasn't like the other 22-year-olds after you, carelessly wearing bright bikinis. I was too preoccupied with how I looked suddenly: child bearing hips, a soft middle. My stomach deflated, my baggy skin pooled in ripples. My abdomen’s surface became puckered all over: stretch marks dripping into one another like tear tracks. I was a rubber band that had been pulled too hard: my elasticity gone. I didn’t bounce back.

Six weeks after you were born, I was cleared for sex again, not by a doctor, but by a guy who said he knew one. Despite his insistence, I had no interest in making love then. I was too self-conscious to let someone see my imperfect body. Even with the lights off. “If only you could have seen me before I had a baby,” I said, lamenting the picture I never had taken.

But there is something to be said for a dozen years. Sometimes now, I slide my fingers into the grooves of my stretch marks, feel how glossy my skin is in the tracks you left. Nearly, I am comfortable. The last time someone touched my stomach, she traced her fingers along my stretch marks like I do and I lie there, letting her, trying not to purr. Although I didn’t keep you, now I keep how you marked me like a mother keeps a finger painting: as if it's un-ugly.

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