You’d be hard-pressed to find an adjective for her stature
other than “small”.
“Tiny” would also do,
Her head has never come close
to brushing the five-foot mark.
When I hug her, I bend as if to lift a young child.
If height were measured by deference, though,
she’d tower over us all.
We speak to her in low tones
nearly reverential in inflection.
But one day it is she who makes the confession,
resting frail wrists on the soft mound of her stomach.
“I’m getting so fat!” she bursts out in genuine dismay.
“I’m going to have to go on a diet.”
After the necessary moment for shock has passed,
we ply our reassurances thick and fast
“No, no, no, not fat! Not fat at all.”
And I fight back my own consternation.
If, with 103 birthdays beneath her belt,
Helen still finds her weight a worry,
what hope can there ever be
for the endless vanity
of girls who look like me.
-Lo, who has a swimsuit to think about fitting into.