Martina Trevisan, Hunger Artist

Siddhartha eats as little as possible. Martina eats as little as possible: thirty grams of cereals each day, a piece of fruit each night. She hates her muscular, athletic body. Her father is dying from a degenerative disease. Siddhartha dying till he receives a gift of milk and rice. Avoid extremes. Not too much, and not too little. The doctrine of the Middle Way. Four years pass before Martina is given a fork and knife. Before her a plate of peas and meat. She learns to eat again.

A racquet appears in her hand. She traces the map back to her long, lost junior career, emerges from her “cocoon of apathy.” More beautiful and beautiful till she begins to play the grand slams: Doesn’t qualify, doesn’t qualify, doesn’t qualify, doesn’t qualify, doesn’t qualify . . . On the tenth attempt, she qualifies, then loses in the first round. On the eleventh attempt, she reaches the 2020 quarterfinals of the French Open in Paris where her long, sweeping groundstrokes go back and forth and back and forth till her family’s porch is swept clean. In 2022, the semifinals of the French Open. Italy falls in love with her artistic flair. Michelangelo paints muscular women like her on the Sistine Chapel Ceiling. The woman who was once a Hunger Artist. No one understanding. No one craning their necks to see.

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