Author's Note: After this poem was published, and it began to appear online, it was to my embarrassment and chagrin that it was being passed around numerous 'Pro-Ana' sites.
I cannot find the voice for you, Something left unsaid, impossible In your presence, culture-bound to vogue, The central attraction of runway values, The tights and blouse that cling To the contours of bone, sharp ridges Of hips, the pubic mound are Christian Dior. The pouty mouth dry from crystal-meth, What you take in your defense, A charmed life of sea-kelp and spritzers With the rest of an airy world Through palpy lips, vulnerable Vortex of sex, beauty and early death. You bring your papers to my desk With eyes moody, promiscuous And leave with an endless line of boys To be controlled, spent, then sent away In your search for the perfect cure Which somehow always returns to pain. The golden image of the golden girl With skin cool, marmoreal, you turn To say “I’m sorry,” once again. The black hollow eyes of marble Greeks Through which the world is said to stare Are yours, product of consumer culture, First to be consumed, Your eyes grow dark, you descend Past anything that would have led To self-discovery, flesh following flesh. I cannot speak for you. You will remain your wish, Something left unsaid, Obsessive image, in five years At the outside by physician’s count Those studio teeth will calcify Hard as stone—the heart gone— And I will insist I have some voice In the matter, asking For what you would only scorn, Some small honor grieving still.
Originally published in The Journal of The American Medical Association, (JAMA) and later in Earthly Bodies, (2004).
©2021 Michael Gessner
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