By Lauren Lee
The Art of Being Empty
I was baptized in the TV light of The Biggest Loser
and worshipped a version of myself that I believed
could go forty days without eating, like Jesus.
I packed my lunchbox with a communion
of teeth-whitening strips and cherry red lipstick.
you’re only allowed to donate blood once a month,
so I bought fake IDs so I could go twice a week.
Those 1,400 calories had me in a chokehold.
I carry years of Diet Coke and sugar-free gum in my rib cage.
The holes in my bones were carved deep by a middle
and a ring finger both digging six feet into the ground.
I took pride in hiding bones behind thick cotton–
my own little treasure hunt, X marks the spot.
Skinny is beautiful, but feeding tubes burn like hell.
And yet somehow knowing you need one makes you feel like God.
This is not pretty. This is being forced to sing when you pee,
so the nurses know you aren’t vomiting,
counting the calories in your toothpaste,
and watching your parents read their eulogies for your imaginary funeral.
If you are not recovering, you are dying.
I remember the day my mom found my body crumpled on the stairs.
I would take my dinner in my room just to watch potatoes
float like loofahs in a bath of toilet water.
My dad bought every food I loved, just to watch it rot in the pantry.
I haven’t gotten my period in six years.
I still don’t remember how to live, when dying felt so damn good.
I am still reminding myself that Zoloft and a bowl
of ice cubes do not count as dinner.
Yesterday, I forgot to eat breakfast, and for a split second
I remembered how good it would feel to forget about
lunch and maybe dinner too.
And suddenly I am fifteen years old again, sewing rocks
into my socks to meet my weekly weigh-ins.
Lauren, forgive me.
I miss the feeling of a belly full of water and chapped lips.
What I am slowly learning is that
lunch boxes can hold glitter and my mom’s tea sandwiches.
I can worship the version of myself who can swim for miles
and hold my little brother in my arms without passing out.
Slowly I am filling the holes in my bones with
sunlight and the sweetest fruit.
I now baptize myself with big breakfasts and fresh flowers,
and cups of sugary tea. The truth is so much more
than a Feeding tube could ever conserve.
The truth is this time, I will give myself what I deserve.