Carrie Etter

September 6, 2013 Etter Carrie


I saw that I was fat and walked and walked toward a desert only to find a case of (not light) beer.

Seeing oneself as fat often involves a photograph or a mirror, as one’s image of oneself is rarely fat.

I opened a can of Diet Coke to feel a sense of commitment if not progress.

Not progress given that I have drunk Diet Coke for decades and detested my subservience to a multinational.

At this point you should say, “At least it’s not McDonald’s,” to which I will nod in mitigated guilt.

If I am walking toward a desert let it be California.

I partook of California’s glamour for thirteen years.

In the Midwest people say California so it seems to have five even six syllables as they try to keep the word on their tongues as long as possible.

I’d go back to the Midwest for a visit and listen to other people say California and reckon my good fortune.

I often felt fat in California, though usually I was thin.

Everyone in Los Angeles feels fat.

If you say California enough you will go there.

Sometimes I move through the world by way of illusion, harboring an image of a woman with a weightless face.

“The Last Photograph” will appear in Carrie Etter‘s fifth collection, Grief’s Alphabet (Seren Books, 2024). The recipient of grants from Arts Council England and the Society of Authors, Etter has lived in the UK since 2001 and is a member of the creative writing faculty at the University of Bristol.