*Inspired by the late Adrienne Rich and her poem Diving into the Wreck.
by Melissa Greenwood
We have to pull them in during our Pilates work—front ribs to back ribs—or into an imaginary wall behind us. Left to flare, to splay, they are “the ribs of…disaster.”
What is the function of the ribs? To protect the vital organs in the chest: the lungs, the spleen, the heart.
Our ribs protect our hearts, and yet they are a disaster. Our ribs protect our hearts, so we knit them together just as protectively—like yarn in a bubbe’s blanket. Our ribs protect our hearts, and thus we cannot ingest them. THAT would be a disaster for us (Pilates-) practicing Jews.
Instead, we contract them, make them smaller, as we likewise get smaller: longer and leaner. As though standing before a funhouse mirror. As though wearing Spanx and a corset. As though zippering up a spacesuit, or, these days, onesie pajamas. The goal isn’t to be thinner, but exercise will do that to a person.
Meanwhile, others prefer their ribs bigger—meatier. They put a ubiquitous “Mc” before them and eat them for lunch between bread, a Coke and fries rounding out their meal and their bodies—the golden ribs of disaster or deliciousness, depending on who’s asking.
An Antioch University Los Angeles MFA alumna, Melissa has published creative work in The Los Angeles Review; the Los Angeles Review of Books; Lunch Ticket; The Manifest-Station; Brevity; Annotation Nation; Meow Meow Pow Pow, for which she recently received a “best small fiction” nomination; and Pink Plastic House's Poke. Melissa lives in LA with her husband in the aforementioned pajamas that she desperately wishes were onesies. Although she teaches and practices Pilates, she fully supports the occasional McDonald’s indulgence. #ribs
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