Poetry

The Gnawing

I don’t know when it began,

this gnawing at the back of my mouth, bloodying my tongue

with words that spoke only

of how my body, the vessel of everything that is me,

was not good enough

for the rest of the world.

 

It haunted the silence after meals,

wriggling, worming its way deeper

until it lodged a solid nest

and grew so much that it took over my brain

with thoughts of

how many calories are in a slice

of bread,

that apple,

those deliciously rich cherry tarts.

 

It spurred my limbs to work overtime,

even when my muscles screamed

that they hadn’t had enough nutrition that day

to function at just a normal level.

 

I tired, unable to keep up

with its demands,

unable to know my own self.

But of course, the sleeping me

did not go unnoticed by the faces I knew.

 

They dragged the gnawing from me,

gave me ambrosia to wake me

and told me it was okay.

Yet they didn’t exorcise it completely.

It had made its mark,

and now lingers on eternally.