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Charlotte Puddifoot. Click the Next or Previous links below the poem to navigate between poems. Remember, Poetrysoup is an environment of encouragement and growth. Thank you.
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The Hunger Game
Ana's taught me to count
not in numbers but calories
with a yolk-yellow calorie handbook.
The calories pulse with a heartbeat.
They are not dead and number-flat;
they whisper and breathe, real and alive.
A pebble-heavy potato = 105.
She's grey-gaunt, spinning herself thin,
this mirror woman staring back at me,
anaemic-pale and flower-frail.
But fat silently seeps, oozes greasily
beneath jutting hipbones; contaminating,
expanding like some monstrous child.
Consumed by the rituals of chew-and-spit:
food without guilt and regret, no threat,
no unctuous slippage of calories down the throat.
But hunger escapes from the body's bone-cage;
my tongue tingles for texture and taste,
craves chocolate's dark velvet melt.
"Eat," my body pleads.
"Resist." Ana stabs my ear with a knife twist.
Eat resist eat resist eat resist...
The fading scar on my left wrist
where I tried to cut out calories
is the silvering slash of a grin.
And Ana's still smirking, skewing reality,
sneering "You'll never cut yourself free from me."
3 a.m., bloating in the bathroom's mirror-bright gaze,
one pound gained; the scale's needle
jabs hard into catastrophe's red haze.
Ana's on her knees beside the toilet, guilt-goading me,
forcing unforgiving fingers down my throat.
My heart flutters like a flickering bulb,
stutters like my tongue
searching for words to voice a lie.
Ana tightens the puppet strings,
pulls my marionette mouth
into shapes that say: "I'm not hungry."
"I've already eaten today."
Her voice is snake-hissy
slithering into my ear:
"How many calories? How many calories?"
Insistent, scratching my bone china mind,
screeching like nails down a windowpane.
Drifting dizzily through pangs and pains,
giddy with the headiness starvation brings,
air-light and feather-floaty.
My thoughts could take off like birds.
The Arctic gusts in
and I'm blown to bone.
My arms are winter branch brittle;
wrists could snap with one tap.
I wobble on frangible twigs
that barely pass for legs.
Ketosis: a sour-apple smell
clinging acidic on breath and skin.
Hair strands are falling: spiderweb threads,
wisps and glints of coppery red;
autumn filaments floating off into empty space...
I'm tubed and taped -
the needling invasion like soul rape.
A fattening elixir
of nutrients and glucose is cannula-fed
into my winter-blue veins.
Ana's jabbering on the end of the bed
swinging matchstick legs,
her bone-brittle voice word-jabbing me:
disgusting, pathetic, obese.
They've stuffed me with prozac,
fed me diazepam,
in a desperate bid to turn her volume down.
Gauzy morning, a hollow dawning:
I must play the hunger game,
consume just enough to gain.
Discharged, I'll count my days
not in numbers but calories,
guilt-grubby and grubbing
for the killing crumbs,
spinning myself thinner
till Ana frees or kills me.
Anorexia is a serious illness; it's not a lifestyle choice and it has nothing to do with
vanity. I hope I've conveyed that in this poem.