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Denise Duhamel - For the One Man Who Likes My Thighs

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For the One Man Who Likes My Thighs

There was the expensive cream from France
that promised the dimples would vanish
if applied nightly to the problem spots.
Then, when that didn't work, Kiko, the masseuse
at Profile Health Spa, dug her thumbs
deep into my flesh as she explained
in quasi-scientific terms that her rough hands
could break up the toughest globules of cellulite.
I screamed, then bruised over, but nothing
else happened. When they healed, my legs still looked
like tapioca pudding. There was the rolling pin method
I tried as far back as seventh grade,
kneading my lumpy legs as though I was making bread.
Cottage Cheese Knees, Thunder Thighs --
I heard it all -- under the guise of teasing,
under the leaky umbrella mistaken for affection.
I learned to choose long dresses
and dark woolen tights, clam diggers instead of short-shorts,
and, when I could get away with it, skirted bathing suits.
The nutritionist said that maybe Royal Jelly tablets
would break up the fat. I drank eight glasses
of water everyday for a month. I ate nothing
but steak for a week. I had to take everyone's advice,
fearing that if I didn't, my thighs
would truly be all my own fault. Liposuction
cost too much. The foil sweat-it-out
shorts advertised in the back of Redbook
didn't work. Swimming, walking in place, leg lifts.
It's embarrassing, especially being a feminist.
I wondered if Andrea Dworkin had stopped worrying,
and how. If Gloria Steinem does aerobics,
claiming it's just for her own enjoyment.
Then I read in a self-help book:
if you learn to appreciate your thighs, they'll appreciate
you back. Though it wasn't romance at first sight,
I did try to thank my legs for carrying me up nine flights
the day when the elevator at work was out;
for their quick sprint that propelled me
through the closing doors of the subway
so that I wouldn't be late for a movie;
for supporting my nieces who straddled, one
on each thigh, their heads burrowing deep into my lap.
I think, in fact, that it was at that moment
of being an aunt I forgot for an instant
about my thigh dilemma and began, more fully,
as they say, enjoying my life. So when it happened later
that I fell in love, and as a bonus,
the man said he liked my thighs, I shouldn't have been
so thoroughly surprised. At first I was sure I'd misheard --
that he liked my eyes, that he had heard someone else sigh,
or that maybe he was having a craving for french fries.
And it wasn't very easy to nonchalantly say oh, thanks
after I'd made him repeat. I kept asking
if he was sure, then waiting for a punch
line of some mean-spirited thigh-related joke.
I ran my fingers over his calf, brown and firm,
with beautiful muscles waving down the back.
It made no sense the way love makes no sense.
Then it made all the sense in the world.

Denise Duhamel

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