“Cupcake Girl” by Sierra Ryan (2009)

She is a cupcake of a woman,
poured into the ruffled sheath of her bathing suit.
What she wears is a bathing suit,
it’s too polka dot cute to be swimsuit.
Bathing suits are for Bathing Beauties,
the antiquated glamour of pudgy poise.

Her hair is pinned into fat black curls,
whips of glossy chocolate frosting.
Buttercream skin sprinkled with butterscotch freckles.
A Maraschino cherry mouth,
permanently puckered sweet.

She smells like baby powder
a hint of jasmine lotion.
She reads a magazine
and towels water droplets
off her children’s backs.

Boys make fun of her size as they walk by,
billowing their zitty cheeks and pushing out their bellies.
She ignores them as she lifts her daughter onto the carousel.
“You’ll have to get off, ma’am.” The merry-go-round operator instructs her.
“Of yes, of course.” She smiles, her teeth a row of pearls,
and steps behind the fence to wave at her daughter as she spins.

The boys point and laugh,
jumping on the carousel while it is still moving.
They harass her daughter,
asking if she’ll grow up to be as fat as her mommy.
When the daughter gets off, she wipes away the child’s tears.

She tucks her things in a pink and blue bag
and holds her daughters hand as they cross the road.
As she pulls out of the parking space,
her eyes are damp but she smiles brightly,
checking the rearview to watch for fast-moving cars.


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