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​the failing of human anatomy

by Magebird


the failing of human anatomy

elastic bands tucked
underneath my armpits
pull tight and taut against
my untanned skin.

i lean forward in my desk chair.
the fabric cuts into my flesh
and digs into my sternum.
i’d leave the bra
in my dresser drawer
if i wasn’t going for a walk
around the neighborhood
in a handful of minutes.

scrolling through my
Instagram feed
before i go,
i wonder if any of my
bikini-clad classmates
know the sensation of a swimsuit
tugging at the back of their
spinal column and ribs--

--too weak to shatter
fragile bones into shards
of calcium and bone marrow,
but strong enough
to make my peer question
if there's something
wrong with their body?

have they dreamed of
strolling through Walmart
on a crowded Saturday morning
and trying on an endless slew
of bras and swimsuits
until they found just the right one--

--only to wake up,
slumped at their desk,
trying to ignore the pain
of yet another
too-small bra
ordered off of Amazon?

Author's Note

Hello there! Thank you for reading this poem. It was inspired by a struggle I've been having throughout quarantine- and a conversation I just had with my mom.  She reminded me how convoluted women's clothing is compared to men's clothing, so I decided to write a poem on a topic that I feel should be more openly talked about. 

I appreciate any and all reviews, but I'd be especially grateful if you gave me your thoughts on the title and how understandable the narrative is. :)


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Thu Jul 16, 2020 5:43 pm
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whatchamacallit wrote a review...



Hey Mage! I really enjoyed reading your piece and thought I'd write a quick review (:

You mentioned the title and also how easy to understand the narrative is, so I'll go over those first. I really like the title, and how it puts an emphasis on "the failing", by making it into a noun. I also feel like the mood that the title conveys fits well with the poem. However, to me it brings to mind something that's wrong with human anatomy, whereas I think the poem is talking more about how clothing makes women think there's something wrong with their body even if there isn't. If you could alter the title slightly to reflect how clothing creates the illusion of "failing anatomy", I personally think it would reflect the content a bit better. But that's just my opinion, so feel free to disregard it if you feel differently!

As a whole, I found the narrative pretty understandable. There were just two parts that I found a bit confusing at first - I did figure it out after reading through the poem a couple more times, though, so if you want the poem to take a few reads to digest, then you can definitely leave as is.

The first place I found a little hard to understand was, well, the opening stanza.

elastic bands tucked
underneath my armpits
pull tight and taut against
my untanned skin.

At first I imagined the elastic bands to be literal elastic bands, rolled way up onto the narrator's arm so that if her arms hang by her side, the elastic bands would be under her armpits. This didn't really make sense so I figured I was reading it wrong, and when I reached the second stanza I realized what you actually meant. It does make sense once I figured out what the poem was about, but just jumping straight in from the beginning I personally found that imagery to be a bit confusing. That could just be me though, and if so feel free to ignore this comment (:

The other part I found a bit confusing was when you split off into a sort of separate thought, enclosed within the double dashes. I got that they act sort of as parenthesis, and that if you skip those two stanzas you can keep reading smoothly from the third stanza right into the final stanza - the formatting/structure makes sense, and I think it's a really neat way to add a bit of a tangent. So formatting wise, I wouldn't change a thing.
know the sensation of a swimsuit
tugging at the back of their
spinal column and ribs--

--too weak to shatter
fragile bones into shards
of calcium and bone marrow,
but strong enough
to make my peer question
if there's something
wrong with their body?

But this part confused me a little, content-wise. I had to read it a few more times before I realized that the swimsuit was "too weak to shatter // fragile bones into shards...", and you weren't still talking about the ribs. Again, this could very well be a stupid mistake on my part, but adding some extra clarification never hurts.

As a whole, I think the subject of the poem is easy to pick up on, and I really like how you approached it. You write about it very literally, but still incorporate some really interesting imagery - my favourite stanza is definitely the fourth, because it puts a fresh spin on broken bone imagery, and also leads really well into the idea of clothing making girls/women question or dislike their bodies.

I just have one more very minor critique I want to mention in my review, which is completely stylistic. Since you've chosen not to capitalize sentences, or "i", I personally think it'd make sense not to capitalize "Instagram" and "Amazon", as well. But again, totally stylistic and up to you as the poet.

I definitely agree that this sort of thing needs to be talked about more openly. I think that a lot of guys have no idea just how uncomfortable some women's clothing is. And also, it's ridiculously hard to get a good fitting bra, which is an item of clothing that for a lot of women is necessary for physical health and comfort, not just style.

That's it for my review! I really enjoyed reading this poem, and I hope this review is helpful!

Keep writing :)

whatchamacallit




Magebird says...


Hi, whatcha! Thank you so much for your review - I wanted to reply to it sooner, but I never had the chance until now.

I understand all of your critiques, and I'll definitely be referring to this review when I go and revise this - you told me exactly where I needed some clarification. <3



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Thu Jul 16, 2020 1:04 am
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Vil wrote a review...



Hello, Magebird! This is Vilnius with a review. (Please forgive me if I sound crazy or something.)

Personally, I classify this as human rights and womens' rights issues. Most of my closest friends are girls, and they mention all sorts of stuff I would never otherwise hear. As such, I can easily see where you're coming from, and I can see why you believe that this should be a topic talked about more openly.

Regarding the title, I thought this was a poem about evolution. However, that was only because I had just gotten off of a Zoom call in which a politician defined his separation of Church and state beliefs, so please excuse my fried brain. XD

Re-examining it, I better understand why you chose the title that you did and why it was worded this way.

Overall, this poem was well done. I liked it, and I hope one day this can be an issue talked about more openly.




Magebird says...


Hi, Vilnius! Thank you for your review. :)

I can definitely see what you mean about the title - it reminds me of a conversation I had in one of my college bio classes, now that you've brought it up. :)

Maybe I'll just save this title for another poem about religion & science and try to come up with an alternative to the failing of human anatomy for this one?

Thank you again for the review!




You know what the big problem is in telling fantasy and reality apart? They're both ridiculous.
— The 12th Doctor