Posts Tagged ‘eating disorder’





We used to fight about who got to be Miss Scarlet.

She was the most beautiful character on the box,

her slender waist, her long black hair, her scarlet lips.


Her slender waist. It was as if we thought that by moving

a red plastic piece around the board, we, too,

would be more beautiful. With a roll of the dice,


she would glide across the square tiles from the library

to the billiard room, would take the underground tunnel

between the conservatory and the lounge.


As I filled in the squares on my brown detective pad,

I imagined long red acrylics on my stubby broken nails.

Oh she was everything we were not. She was mysterious,


she hung out in a mansion with a ballroom and study.

She was elegant, thin and rich. And when things went wrong,

and they always did, she and her friends, Miss Peacock, Mrs. White,


they always figured it out by the end of the game

just who had been the killer, and what weapon they used—

the silver candlestick, the knife.


Did we really believe that beauty would help us

to figure things out? We decided at some point

to try that route. The game gathered dust


as we turned to stealing our mother’s make up

and styling each other’s hair, then watching

our weight, then not eating at all.


We were our own killers then. Our own weapons, too.

We didn’t need a revolver or a rope. It was Miss Scarlet

in the kitchen, but it took years for us to figure it out.



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You never really recover.

That’s what the woman told me

her friend had said.

We were talking about

eating disorders.

There’s no way to make

that line sound poetic.

Her friend ran a program

at a hospital for other women

with eating disorders.

Her friend knew the subject personally.

I remember, I told the woman,

when I believed the same thing.

Until one day, it happened.

I just didn’t know

it was possible because

for so many, many years

it hadn’t happened to me,

though I tried, I tried.

Whenever it happened,

there were no fireworks,

no symphonies, no ecstatic dance,

no revelations written in clouds.

No rhapsody, no reveille, no

parade, no streams of light.

It happened so quietly I didn’t notice—

not for days, weeks, perhaps months.

Now I lean in when I hear myself say never.

What a fine time to get very curious.

What a fine time to get very quiet,

even quieter than that.

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the tailor comes to your town
and says he can make you
the finest new clothes—
clothes that will make
even you beautiful.
You want to be beautiful.
All your life you have felt
ugly, unwanted, unseen.
You ask him what
the clothes will cost.
He tells you, anything I ask.
And who is it in you
that forms the word yes
and agrees to his drastic price?
It doesn’t matter. The
word is said. You
force your body
to do as he bids.
You learn to crave hunger.
You learn to lie.
You spread for him
your wasting thighs.
You make of your belly
an empty bowl.
You lose your moon.
You’re always cold.
But the clothes he makes you
never quite fit. They
are always too tiny.
You are always too big.
And every day you imagine
leaving him. But you don’t
remember how else to live.
When did your world collapse?
It’s so small, so small in here.
Who is that woman in the mirror?
God, you hate her, you hate how she looks.
Every day you promise some part of yourself
that you’ll find a way to escape this warp,
this place where nothing is ever right.
But you’re scared to leave him.
And you’re scared to stay. He shows you
the newest clothes that he’s made.
They are tinier still, so striking, so fine
and with a thin smile that you
have grown to hate, he says,
Come now, don’t you want to be beautiful?

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