by Emily Dietrich

An Apple A Day (Thoughts on the death of a gymnast)

In 1994, I heard a story on the radio about a gymnast who died because she was trying to lose weight at her coach’s direction. She was eating one apple a day. Nothing else. One apple a day.


I sing for you, for friends I’ve known.

We misunderstand
What they want,
And will do anything
To be wanted.
Yes, stick our acid-pocked
Fingers down our throats,
Yes, drink Syrup of Ipecac.

I know why you did it.
I’ve wished I had the
To eat
One apple a day.

You did it.
You died for it.
You gave your would
And sacrificed your body
To the ideal.

In death you will meet
Antigone and Joan of Art
They may understand
Your single-minded striving.
But their eyes will narrow
When they learn of the narrow greatness
We want now.


Driven by


You misunderstood.
Serpent deceived you.
The apple is not enough.
It won’t make you happy.
You’ll still feel ugly and empty.
True beauty remains elusive
Even though this is America
Where discipline is said to bring results.
Serpent hisses the happiness formula,
Serpent twines on TV
Spits venom from magazines.

Serpent hisses,
Be desirable.
Who could resist?
The apple hangs, obvious,
Red and ready like you.

Don’t you know you’re the apple?
Your core.
Relish it.

August 10, 1994
San Jose, CA

Author: Emily

Emily Dietrich is a poet, novelist, and mystery writer.

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