I didn’t know it’d be like this,
Her breath cut in half,
The slowly collapsing
Basket of her ribs
So undramatically removing
Itself from her life.
“Silence is golden,” her mother said, “Girls should be seen and not heard.” Well, there’s no silence now in that grinding struggle, just breathe! breathe! Sipping air in teaspoonfulls past the slithering mass of stomach, it should not be here in the chest, it sneaked in slowly through the hiatus, stealthily like a tumour, weighting the lung, cozying up to the heart. It’s almost beautiful, that mayfly wing transparency of her spine on the X-ray, vanishing quietly from her.
All those years of holding her words,
Swallowing anger and pain,
The words tail-backing in her throat,
Bracing herself not to let them tumble out.
She’s free, now, to say them.
And sometimes I hear the never-spoken truths
Slipping from her,
From a chest that’s too small now
To hold them.