Je suis belle, ô mortels! comme un rêve de pierre

These poisoned sensations have to be
Accepted if they’re to be
Overcome. Looking
Up calories on my phone

Not that I’m counting 
Don’t even like numbers
It’s something vestigial
It comes in bad minutes

To teach my body something's in control
Something little & unholy, wrong idea
Of information, chiseling a transparent minute
Into myself with the afterimage of a form

If I did this kind of thing
On the bigger machine it’d be
Worse. Worse
Things than this are bombing

The world. A terrible
Fate is coming to power tomorrow. I’m reading
The early poems of Sherman Alexie. Desolation
Of secular life. I remember the luxury of speculating

All mystical traditions grew up
In the souls of a disciplined few
Turned in on themselves while under
Occupation by tyrants. That was then. This

Morning I could see one comfort: to become rock
Hard. Could imagine one comfort:
To have become rock. I had no
Imagination. I had his. I had theirs. “Formalism

& grammar are ways to be thin...” masochism
Merely thought of, the idea of a calorie
Most boring way to feel womanly doing itself to me
This morning I was panicking, burning, I was desperate

Scanning the body of my bedfellow
Its beautiful cheeks & chin
& long smooth abdomen
My silence growing fat like an old fruit

Still making me sick
It makes me sick I longed
For the wrong thing
I longed for death. I dreamed of stone

sent by hand

19 January 2017



Copyright © 2017 by Ariana Reines. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 5, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“On the eve of the inauguration I found myself writing poems about my father and doing regressive things that I don’t in fact do—in this case, Googling the calories in foods, knowledge which, once I’d attained it, I didn’t do anything with, though somehow it still did itself to me. What is information you don’t precisely use? A tiny opportunity to suffer needlessly perhaps. Baudelaire’s ‘La Beauté’ is a poem that has always haunted me.  What a strange thing for Beauty to do—liken her beauty to ‘a dream of stone.’ It’s so easy—too easy—to be swallowed by the nightmares of the opposite of beauty in these times. Thank heaven for poetry to keep us living and moving today of all days.”
—Ariana Reines