I’d like to have the abs I had
when I was 17. If you could see me now,
tubular and bloated, but knew me then –
same height, 70 lbs lighter on the soccer field –
you’d understand I carried not just a six pack,
but the whole damn case. In later years
I’d continue with the whole case. And another.
And another. And countless more, ad nauseam. Now
my abs are like a lead balloon, a blimp,
a Zeppelin filled with heavy metals. Or maybe
they’re hidden in the under layers,
like a girlfriend in a cold house
wrapped in blankets in November. Cozily
entombed. A while back when I complained
about the shape I’m of, a friend said
you could get them back, you know.
But I’d have to give up beer and sliced cheese,
two fat corners of my stodgy food pyramid.
Supposing I changed my eating habits and my moving habits
I could make headway, but at 40 it feels so
unnatural to exercise with the necessary intensity.
Tuesday mornings in the gym I play basketball
where no team goes skins and after, my body recovers
slowly over days as if getting over a triathalon.
Oh to wish for a Fairy Abmother, bibbitty bobbitty boo,
Majestic Abs til midnight. Shirtless and flexing
at the Royal Ball. In this life in a sweatshirt
I’m schlumping with a kangaroo’s pouch
no Princess lusts for. Most of all I wish I’d’ve
known back then, so I might appreciate myself,
svelte, barely sweating, not even out of breath,
waltzing off the soccer field as if I’d never know Death.
Steve Henn is the author of Indiana Noble Sad Man of the Year (Wolfson Press, 2017). He teaches high school English and dads it up. His heroes include Kurt Vonnegut, Bob Hicok, and Jack Musgrave.