So this is a poem I wrote a couple of years ago about (you guessed it), eating disorders. This particular one is focused on a person with a low-weight eating disorder and is told from the perspective of a lover, partner, whatever. I won’t make any claims to its quality as a poem, but hopefully you’ll find that it gets a message through.
I watch you digging for clams, bent at the waist with your hands deep in the cold sand.
While you hunt your eyes are shiny hopeful & hungry
But when you look at me your eyes are murky and still like tide pools
Spitting salt into the icy air.
You stand, grey muck under your fingernails,
Frostbitten cheeks glowing as you hold up a fat clam.
But I can’t smile back like I used to—
My love, it is imprisoned by your jutting ribcage
Which presses tighter against your faded skin every day.
You pretend like I don’t see
That each morning when I roll over to touch you, love
My hand must crisscross a mountain range of starved bones
And even then I cannot reach you, your lips pursed up tight like a clam.
You pretend like I don’t care
That each time you sit on the bathtub floor to let the water scald you clean
You cry into the stream, begging that it will burn away your skin
So that you can melt away into the drain.
Clams will only open once they are boiled long enough.
I wonder if I were to split your head open wide
Would there be warm blood or would a pool of icy water spill out—
Would I find etched into your bone apologies and love letters
Or poems about how you wish you could grow a shell, sleep tight inside deep under the water?
You walk further down the beach dragging your toes to feel for hard shells
Looking for the pockets of promises that hiding places still exist
Like you might join them beneath the tight cold sand
And let me dig for you again and again calling