4. Shrivel your stomach until it takes a single granola bar to feel full. Have NyQuil for a midnight snack. With pale pupils and unplugged irises, the only language you communicate in is numbers. You are a human recycling bin. Quit blaming your hometown and decomposing skin. If you’re not recovering, you are dying. There is no halfway when you’re overflowing from the inside. Drown your organs- they are already shipwrecked.
5. There was another girl in our grade who got sick about the same time you did, but she went to the hospital real quick because she was already thin to begin with. You see, when you’re thin, then get rapidly thinner, you have a problem. You need help.
6. You were not thin to begin with. You were fat, and now you’re evaporating, so everybody is congratulating you on getting “healthy.” You are not an illness, but an inspiration. Your father still carries your before-and-after photo in his wallet. Your disease is a smashing sensation.
7. Friend, I am so sorry. You too, are sick. Your messiah Kate Moss insists her physique is an achievable ambition, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”… Girl, she’s never had Nutella. Do not trust her, her two-faced dental care, or her fur pelt. Anorexics develop a hair all over to thaw their glacial bodies, called lanugo. The cold won’t let you go.
8. Veins bulging like a pop up book, I am watching you get sick. Mistake tracing paper for your skin. I am watching you get sick. When the blackouts start and your pulse gets slippery, wallpaper your interior with laxatives. I am watching you get sick. Read so much, your body trusts it is full on authors, not high on hunger. I am watching you get sick.
9. One day, you will learn. The natural pigments will return- no more yellow skin, no blue fingernails, no scarlet scratch in your throat matching the raw nick on your middle finger. Make amends with the kitchen. Your face will glow like a television. You will get full again. Be able to finish a meal. You will become a writer. One day, I hope I’ll be able to finish this poem and say-
10. I am watching you heal. I am watching you get better.
This morning my daughter, who is nearly four, saw the stretch marks on my hips and stomach. She ran her hands over them and asked what they were.
“I got them when I grew up,” I said, “and a few more when I had you.” I grinned down at her. “They’re my stripes. You’ll get stripes too when you grow up.”
She was overjoyed. “Really?”
I think she’s in her room now, pretending to be a tiger.
This is what we need to teach.