My Perfect Mammal Nature

The First Winter Snow –
Richard Brautigan

Oh, pretty girl, you have trapped
yourself in the wrong body. Twenty
extra pounds hang like a lumpy
tapestry on your perfect mammal nature.

Three months ago you were like a
deer staring at the first winter snow.

Now Aphrodite thumbs her nose at you
and tells stories behind your back.

T That’s been one of my favorite poems since I first sneak-read it in a Brautigan collection purloined from one of the big sisters. Even in middle school – not yet fat anywhere but in my own head — I believed that Brautigan and Aphrodite were both behind me snickering. I felt that way when I weighed 110 pounds. I felt that way when I weighed 235.

With the exception of that skinny-minute in college, I have always felt like an abhorrent grub. I have always silently asked people to love me despite my meat-package. Shit, sometimes I ask it out loud, describing myself as a fat girl, party-sized, a little teapot, etc. etc. ad nauseum.

But this morning, I walked the dog early, in the dark through a thick fog. The exercise and eating right has changed things in me. Instead of feeling like I’m hauling around these layers of blubber, I’m starting to feel like there’s something strong and vital inside me, not just the part that can spell sturgeon and turn a dirty beet into a delicious meal. I felt it this morning with every step. I felt the strength in my hips and my thighs. I felt my abdominal muscles. I felt my perfect mammal

I ran a quarter mile. No big deal to most people I guess, but a big deal to me. Instead of focusing on the bulk of me, I focused on that Slim Goodbody girl inside me, the muscle and the toughness and the strength.

Since the middle of August I have lost 25 pounds. I have lost five inches from my waist and four from my hips. Without meaning to last weekend, I pulled a pair of jeans out of the drawer that haven’t fit in years and slipped into them with ease. I’m losing things right and left, but I tell you what, it sure feels like I’m gaining something.

Marjorie Bradshaw is an accomplished knitter, writer, and mother of two teenage men. She lives in Independence MO in a house full of pet hair and joy. She can be reached at