Shrinking Violets

one of the Men struts through shower steam with a
(hums the theme-tune from Rocky)one of the other Men
describes the bird from that partyhow
while all this is going on i face the wallgingerly
dry my bitstry to avoid eye contact with these Men
or these Other Menthen before i know it i start to expand

like that scene in Big Trouble in Little China
– except nonot that – maybe like
Violet Beauregard in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
unless that’s sexistclassisti don’t know
i’m just trying to explain find that image
but the point isi begin to expandnot in proportion
like the 50 Foot Woman because i’m not nor do i claim to be
or identify asa womanof any scalebut

i just began to fill the spaceno buttons to ping
because i’m already naked except for a
1980s Wish You Were Here beach towel
i start to become sphericaldisproportionatemy head
abdomenlimbsdistending outwardsbut
not in a fat-shaming wayand i’m calm about this
let it happen the Other Men don’t notice they’re all bantz-ing
striking posesdon’t register the slow-rising tide
of my sauna-flushed skinmy hot-air flesh-balloon

which encroaches behind themthey don’t even know
because now they’re comparing careers squaring up
their voicesmy body keeps Beauregarding (if i may)
slow-mo explodinglike that scene from Akira
except this isn’t a comment on Japanit’s a comment
on me maybe or at least these Other Men i guess
or me in relation to thembut anywaymy Cumberland
fingers start to touch the metal fixtures of the lockers
the sticky planet of my belly squidges on their backs
they turn and their eyes begin to widenpupils eclipsed
by my unrelenting scalemy unyielding presence
my unruly second-on-second growth

© Caleb Parkin