Sunday, May 07, 2006

Minimalist poetry time!

This morning the clouds
were shot through with gold
as if someone had sewn up
a wound in the sky with
glowing thread


It would be so easy
to step from the ledge,
Like stepping off the diving board
When he was eight years old,
His eyes shut, wet eyelashes
brushing his cheeks
and his fists clenched
against the impact—

and he would fall
as he always had,
like a pebble worn smooth
by the lives rushing over
his own,

and finally tear through
the surface,
of the water
and of his small pains.

becomes you

and then suddenly that identity consumes you, devours you, becomes you. And you and it are one and the same, melded completely; and what was once only a soulless noun (or a gerund maybe) has become your entire being.

I have ‘become’ in blinding flashes, have become “gay” as solidly and surely as a ten foot tall cube of granite, and as difficult to ignore; have been christened “epileptic” and so assumed it, so become it, no longer a woman with a face or a given name, only the name given to me, only seizing in wild spasms, limbs arcing through space and meaning.

and now, the meat of the post:

Recovery from anorexia and bulimia is like moving to another country—exhilarating and terrifying, fraught with anticipation and doubt. After ten years in the lowlands of compulsion, I am traveling towards the hills.

I am reminded of the struggle everyday, not least when I sit down to eat. There are other more subtle temptations and tortures, however. The grocery store is a maelstrom of contradictory urgings—potato chips glistening with grease share aisles with low-fat whole-wheat crackers. The produce aisle, my old haunt, is backed up against the snack food aisle’s decadent bazaar of pastries, chips and crackers. In the checkout line no fewer than a dozen headlines scream at me from the womens’ magazines assembled there—‘the crash diet that actually works,’ ‘drop a dress size in ten days,’ ‘eat more and lose weight,’ ’10 exercises to sculpt that flab.’ I will myself not to look at the article on crash dieting, tightening my grip on the shopping cart instead. The lanky redhead on the cover of the magazine casts a look in my direction that would put a siren to shame—“You know you want to look,” she coos softly. “Just five, maybe ten more pounds. My, my, look at those hips…”

In a culture that elevates thinness to the pedestal previously occupied by moral purity (both have been equated with ultimate happiness, in any event) it is impossible to escape the pounding surf of explicit and implicit judgment. Going out to eat with friends, I hear them lament their naughtiness at ordering a fudgy dessert, as if a sweet tooth were a moral failing. “The calories that must be in this!” they exclaim. I watch them eat it, refusing the offer of a spoonful, and tell myself not to run to the bathroom (despite my wishes otherwise). There is no respite from the maddening repetition of the new tenets of the American woman’s faith—that calories are bad, fat diabolical, and thin the Holy Grail.

Some days it seems like too much. I feel as if my skin has been peeled away, and each advertisement and conversation is like lemon juice in the wound. Mere existence seems too painful, and I feel too sensitive and vulnerable to live. But I keep breathing, and my heart keeps beating, and each day I survive to fight some other day.

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