On An Apple a Day

An apple a day keeps the doctor away; so I have been told. Vitamin C boosts the immune system, phenols reduce cholesterol. Twenty-two grams of complex carbohydrates. No fat, no sodium, or tooth decay. Pectin for digestion. Boron for the bones and brain. Vitamin A, E, and beta-carotene prevent diabetes and cardiovascular disease. And Quercetin prevents neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease.

Most importantly, perhaps, an apple a day is the perfect way to lose weight. Baby weight, chocolate weight. Lonely midnight tear-drenched, therapeutic ice cream weight. Anxiety weight, stress weight. I-did-not-sign-up-for-this-life weight. Fill-the-void-in-my-gut, my time, my heart weight. Maybe-I-will-be-enough-if-I-could-just-lose-this weight.

The weight of the world
is love.
Under the burden
of solitude,
under the burden
of dissatisfaction
the weight,
the weight we carry
is love.

An apple a day is a misleading term little girls take literally. A sneaky, innocent looking game they play to defy their own gravity. Swapping lunch dates for coffee dates, dinner dates for drinks. Ignoring hunger pangs, heart pangs, living on coffee and pills. Running on treadmills in a race to their death while the media and society cheer on. Starving, smoking, binging, purging,

for the burden of life
is love,

If I could only lose that weight, maybe someone, maybe I would love me.

An apple a day is an obstacle game, and there are many of those to avoid. Slices of birthday cake, holiday gatherings, well-meaning family and friends. Beach-side vacations, intrusive questions, the video option on Skype. Dodging disaster with Thank you, I just ate. No thank you, I am full. I never really liked chocolate, actually. An apple a day is a lie.

In dreams
it touches
the body,
in thought
a miracle,
in imagination
till born
in human —

An apple a day is an eating disorder; it makes little girls sick, to their bones. It hurts when they sit. When they lie down, stand. Acid in their stomachs, bruises on their hands. Amenorrhea, osteopenia, tacy- brady- cardia. Broken nails and chunks of hair falling in the sink. Heavy hearts, foggy brains. Constant, unbearable cold. All organs in slow motion; the only things racing are thoughts.

[…] we carry the weight
and so must rest
in the arms of love
at last,

They do collapse but cannot rest, because they cannot sleep. They are depressed but cannot cry, because they cannot feel.

No rest
without love,
no sleep
without dreams
of love —

An apple a day is too much to die, too little to stay alive. The unbearable lightness of an entire existence, the illusion of a bird in flight. Landscape with the fall of Icarus. Little girls pasting wings on their backs. ‘See them acclaiming the sun and come plunging down, while their sensible daddies go straight into town.’*

Dear daddies, dear boyfriends, dear boys on the bus,

There are red apples, green apples everywhere, if you will just look around. Your daughters, your sisters, your girlfriends, your wives. Shouldering the weight of the world, trying to fly.

be mad or chill
obsessed with angels
or machines,
the final wish
is love

These girls are not dying to lose weight. These girls are dying, point. Starving on an apple a day, for a little attention, a little love.

yes, yes,
that’s what
I wanted,
I always wanted,
I always wanted,

To be happy, not perfect. A mother, not a bird. To share an ice cream cone at the beach, a pizza on a date. To be in bed on a Sunday morning, instead of at the gym.

To be alive tomorrow, be in love today.

to return
to the body
where I was born.
- Allen Ginsberg, Song

To sometimes, instead of an apple a day, perhaps have a slice of cake.

The title for this post was inspired by Emma Woolf’’s memoir, ‘An Apple a Day.’

*The original poem, by Anne Sexton, reads:

Consider Icarus, pasting those sticky wings on,
testing this strange little tug at his shoulder blade,
and think of that first flawless moment over the lawn
of the labyrinth. Think of the difference it made!
There below are the trees, as awkward as camels;
and here are the shocked starlings pumping past
and think of innocent Icarus who is doing quite well:
larger than a sail, over the fog and the blast
of the plushy ocean, he goes. Admire his wings!
Feel the fire at his neck and see how casually
he glances up and is caught, wondrously tunneling
into that hot eye. Who cares that he fell back to the sea?
See him acclaiming the sun and come plunging down
while his sensible daddy goes straight into town.

Originally published at www.aristotleatafternoontea.com.