A poem written for and performed at the Bristol Old Vic’s 250th birthday event, May 2016.

I’d quite a lot reflect myself

Back at me

Look at me

And say that’s quite a lot

Panicking

Packing on and packing in

Every day reflect myself back at me

And all I’d see was bits of me

Isolated

Silently

While short of breath and tight of chest

I’d do my best to weigh myself

Quietly

But get it right this time

Cos panicking

Would do me in

Every day

And every day reflect myself

Back at me

Look at me

And say that’s a lot

Panicking

Packing on and packing in

Everything that I could find

Under a hundred calories

So I could breathe and my heart could beat

But only so fast

Years of my life would go past

Every day I’d reflect myself

Back at me

Look at me

And say that’s a lot

Panicking

Packing on and packing in

Everything that I could take from the place I worked where people scoffed and were rude to me so I could get paid what I knew to be all I deserved because dutifully I served only the life that mattered

The one I didn’t have

Where a sober, working and, more importantly, beautiful woman led a life

Might it be coming to me?

Not like this.

And every day I’d reflect myself back at me

From the water of the toilet bowl

In the middle of the day

When my lunch was eight dessert items

That tasted very nice

They all bobbed and foamed on the water

Obscuring my view

I’d quite a lot

Like some help

I rang around

And spoke

And now

Every week reflect myself back at me

Listen to me

And I can see that

Anger and silence weren’t helping me

Get anywhere near where I wanted to be

And the only way out was by holding me

A body

A body

A mind and spirit embodied within it

With ragged and raw adrenal motors never properly fired up

I only ever burned, I had yet to light up

I every week reflect myself back at me

And she asks me

‘what do you see?’

I told her that I put on weight recently

I caught it unexpectedly

Reflected back at me

So I looked at me

But not in my full-length bedroom mirror

I looked at me in the way Moomin does.

He looks up

“Look at my nice ears!” he says

He looks down

“I think I look wonderful.

And I’m so soft and round,

No sharp edges anywhere.”

Politics and culture writer. Editor of Chompsky. Media reform advocate. UK/US.

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