SWWIM publishes, celebrates, & promotes women, women-identifying & Femme-presenting writers through a Miami-based reading series & the online poetry journal SWWIM Every Day.

Acts of Contrition by Gloria Heffernan

I enter the sacred space

of belly, thighs, buttocks,

knowing the Baltimore Catechism

has not prepared me for this confession.


My transgression cannot be eradicated

with a new diet and fifty sit-ups

on the altar of weight loss

in the Cathedral of the Six-Pack Abs.



the sin that fuels the propulsion

of Oreos and French fries,

the falling on the swords

of all Three Musketeers,

snickering at the bloated face

in the mirror,

rejecting any joy

but the almond kind.

Daring you to go ahead…

just try to love me.


And so my penance is this—

to run my hands tenderly

over every bulge, crease, and scar

as I would touch the face of my beloved.


My prayer is to give thanks for these legs

that have carried me here,

even with their jiggling thighs and

dimpled knees,


to bless my arms

with their flabby undersides

that so easily embrace others

with the love I would deny myself,


to trace the road map

of stretch marks that etch my belly

and follow their path

to forgiveness.

Gloria Heffernan's poetry chapbook, Some of Our Parts, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. Her fiction has appeared in Chautauqua Literary Journal, Stone Canoe, and Main Street Rag, and her poetry in Columbia Review, Louisville Review, Gargoyle, Jabberwock, Pleiades, and The Healing Muse. She teaches part-time at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York, and holds a Master's Degree in English from New York University. 

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