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
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.