Dying To Be Thin
The camera captures Ethiopian children,
eagerly reaching for bowls of gluey gruel,
while she stands, on stilt-legs,
silhouetted in my office doorway.
Skin like chalk, hair like straw,
she wails, “I’m too fat!”
pointing to an inch of concave abdomen
visible between the waistline of skin-tight jeans and pale pink top,
declaring “Daddy’s Girl!” in sequins.
She’s determined to be the thinnest girl in tenth grade –
at 85 pounds she has the dubious distinction of being
the thinnest girl in the entire school,
but she doesn’t believe it.
She can never be thin enough.
I can’t talk to this middle-class child of privilege
about starving children in refugee camps
or about her own calcium-starved bones.
All I can do today is listen,
seeing it as a sign of hope
that she has come to talk,
before it is too late.
This poem previously appeared in The Nashwaak Review.
Margaret Patricia Eaton is the author of three collections of poetry, a photographer, mixed media artist, and free lance writer, living in Moncton, NB, Canada. Her experience as a school guidance counsellor prompted her to write “Dying to be Thin”, published in The Nashwaak Review, 2004. She is thrilled that Rebecca Roach has made a donation, on behalf of this poem, to Eden Reforestation Partners (California) to plant trees in various African and Central American countries, that will rebuild forest ecosystems and help combat our climate crisis.
The poems that follow are powerful evidence that Poetry Speaks Back to Hunger!