I got really sick when I was younger and let a label (my diagnosis) define me. The true/annoying thing about a diagnosis is that even when you’ve “recovered” it never really goes away. I relapsed in Spring of 2014. This poem embodies every person who picked blonde hairs off my clothes and made me stand a little bit taller every time I looked in the mirror.
I am every calorie I ever burned
and counted that made my fingers colder
and you are every freckle on my shoulder
stretching over and claiming the bones
making mountains through my skin.
I am every hair dismantled from my scalp
dry and faded fate reminding me
that we’re all getting thinner here
in the form of a fur-filled, once-tight bra
that used to keep my bones in place,
but the days dragged on
and the lace that shaped my chest grew thin.
We’re all getting thinner here.
and thread by thread
and hair by hair
for every bathroom I searched for after
eating a whopping 133 calories
and for every time my mind gave my stomach five pounds
after half a spoonful of rice
and for every time I cried
as a single leaf of spinach slid down my throat
and for every time my eyes fit an entire cafeteria
into a single pit of an olive
and for every time that pit swallowed every vein
that gave me another chance to try again at dinner
and whispered to every sinew,
“We don’t need you here.”
but you — it’s you and that damn hair
that cling to my skin
show your face in my shower
because just as the hair rappels down my vertebrae
and gathers around the drain to make a mockery of what I cannot keep
you run your fingertips across my collarbone softly,
trailing the tresses that cast webs over every dip in my chest
and when I pitch the baggy black tent
for the valleys in my skin,
you harvest every blonde hair with gentle gardening hands
sprouting to remind you that sometimes
you can see all my secrets on my sleeve.
but we all have secrets here.
and just when the dawn breaks through the glass
to define by light that you and pillows
were made to fit in the cracks of my anatomy
you unwind the fading gold strands that in the darkness bind me,
tangling themselves into my pillow
through warp and weft,
with the spindles of your fingers.
it’s you. You and that damn hair
that slip your fingers into my pockets to remind me,
“We’re all hungry here.