The Promise (Veneta Masson)

If you could just lose weight
your blood pressure would go down
your diabetes would clear up
you could get off all those pills you take
your joints wouldn’t ache
you could climb the stairs
run after the bus
carry the groceries
pick up the baby
the swelling in your legs would go down
you could reach all the way to your aching feet
you could breathe again

You could find clothes to fit
get out of your slippers and into real shoes
who knows but what your old man would come back
you’d get more respect from your children
a decent job
your son would kick drugs
your daughter wouldn’t get pregnant again
you’d live to see your last one grown

Your neighbors wouldn’t talk about you
the toilet would flush
the roof wouldn’t leak
there’d be food enough at the end of the month
they wouldn’t cut off your check
jack up the rent
you’d hit the number
go off for two weeks in Aruba

Jesus would save the world from sin
those who mourn would be comforted
the poor would enter the Kingdom of God
your hunger would be filled.

by Veneta Masson
Washington, DC


Discussion Questions:

1. For most of the poem, the speaker writes about all the new and wonderful things she would be able to do if she could “just lose weight.” Do you agree with this perception?

2. To what extent can this poem be read as ironic? i.e. what might this poem tell us about the stigma faced by overweight patients in our society?


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