Trigger warning for eating disorders and abuse.

Words by Venezia May. Illustration by Ummairah Shariff.

You hand me a permanent marker and

ask me about digestion

ask me to circle 

every part of your body

that’s supposed to feel 

some sort of pain when 

you haven’t eaten for six days

You sit there topless and waiting.

I think I want to stab you.

Stab you right in the gullet

with the marker let the ink show you

where the food is supposed to go.

But how can I stab a neck 

the size of my wrist

your breasts folded like doggy ears

across a crumpled page

where your stomach used to be.

Usually, when people come to me

after a breakup it is palms 

cupped and empty 

saying please, my heart has been stolen.

They think that they have 

been drained hollow

but this is the first time

I have ever seen anyone look like a

paper mache version of themselves.

When you survive on a diet of

semen and insecurity you forget

what Old Chang Kee tastes like.

Forget how it feels to pant like a dog

after swallowing chilli padi

or how warm dopamine fills your brain

in the form of a Krispy Kreme 

original glazed donut.

Instead you dream about 

becoming translucent

about losing a dimension

about becoming so flat

that when he holds you

you can slip from his fingers unnoticed.

You ask me if he could have mistaken 

your stomach for your heart 

ask me to check between

the flaps of your skin for crumbs,

for any morsel of hunger that

could have been left behind,

ask me to describe what 

cotton candy tastes like.

I take the marker and start to label you:

where the oesophagus joins the stomach,

where the small intestine curves,

where the zip of your dress got stuck

before you sucked in your gut,

where I used to hug you and

my fingers could barely touch –

trying to draw you again,

trying to use the marker to fill you in

trying to retrieve you from

your skin and bones

he had been picking at 

and left so far behind. 


Venezia discovered poetry as she was healing from an abusive relationship, and never looked back. She is now a spoken word artist speaking about issues of the body and of recovering from broken relationships. You can watch her perform at the monthly Word Forward poetry slams or read snippets of her work on suitcasestoriess.wordpress.com

Ummairah is a self-taught illustrator who is currently doing her Bachelor's in Culture and Design. Previously the Head Designer of The Local Rebel, she dabbles in all sorts of designs and doodles. When not illustrating, she is on Pinterest looking for more inspiration.