The Monday Poem: ‘The Hymn of a Fat Woman’ by Joyce Huff

The Monday Poem is brought to you by Professor Jim Gormley of the English Department. Enjoy!

The Hymn of a Fat Woman

All of the saints starved themselves.
Not a single fat one.
The words “deity” and “diet” must have come from the same
Latin root.

Those saints must have been thin as knucklebones
or shards of stained
glass or Christ carved
on his cross.

Hard
as pew seats. Brittle
as hair shirts. Women
made from bone, like the ribs that protrude from his wasted
wooden chest. Women consumed
by fervor.

They must have been able to walk three or four abreast
down that straight and oh-so-narrow path.
They must have slipped with ease through the eye
of the needle, leaving the weighty
camels stranded at the city gate.

Within that spare city’s walls,
I do not think I would find anyone like me.

I imagine I will find my kind outside
lolling in the garden
munching on the apples.

—Joyce Huff

The Monday Poem logoAbout the Poet

Joyce Huff is a poet from Muncie, Indiana. She is a professor of English at Ball State University. Her  current book project, Conspicuous Consumptions: Fat in Nineteenth-Century British Literature and Culture, traces some of the roots of twenty-first-century attitudes toward fatness. She on the editorial board of the journal Fat Studies. “The Hymn of a Fat Woman” was selected for the Library of Congress’s Poetry 180 Project.