Diane Lockward, "Sweet Images"




The skinny girl inside her

dreams of slipping into a sleek silk shirt

matched up with a pencil-thin, skin-tight skirt,


but in her waking hours, the brownie

of her dreams, filled with naughty pieces

of chocolate and topped with fudge so creamy


it slides across her tongue,

so delicious it would be impossible, even wrong

to resist—her flesh is ample but not that strong.


She knows what it is to fall—

31 flavors of ice cream and she wants them all.

Like Alice, she hears each confection calling,


Eat me! A modern-day temptation, a snake

coiled in every cookie and cake.

She curses the patisserie and the bakery,


the almond-filled croissants, the meringues,

her tortured taste buds, and the hunger pangs

that cut her, sharper than the reptile’s fangs.


But that interior girl, she has desires,

too. Another kind of hunger burns like fire—

to be svelte like the women she admires


in magazines and movies, women who dine

on lettuce and sip a glass of wine,

who wave away the dessert tray and do not pine


for cheesecake and tiramisu, its rum-soaked layers

of lady fingers pressed together in perverted prayer,

each finger crooked, inviting her into the caloric lair.


Rapacious as a dope fiend, she craves sugar,

whipped cream, pecan pie, and fabrics that hug her

hips without dimples or mounds of blubber.


She envisions herself in glossy photographs,

her hair wind-tossed, sweet words and laughter,

a bottle of Chardonnay, a shared bowl of roughage.



Diane Lockward is the author of The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop (Wind Publications, 2013) and three poetry books, most recently Temptation by Water. Her previous books are What Feeds Us, which received the 2006 Quentin R. Howard Poetry Prize, and Eve's Red Dress. Her poems have been included in such journals as Harvard Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, and Prairie Schooner. Her work has also been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and The Writer’s Almanac.