The Definition of Fine

The Definition of Fine 

Shannon Ackerman 



Do you remember the first time you said 

"I'm okay."  

But I knew you didn't mean it because 

I saw your eyes and though they would wander

over the tiles of the floor,  

avoiding confrontation. 

They were watering and I could see your

eyelashes move up and down at a rapid pace. 

More than anything, I wanted

to wrap my arms around you and let you

empty the pain through your tired, brown eyes. 

But I didn't. 

And every time I asked how you were

the same response, the same reaction.  

Though, eventually, those okay's would

turn into "I'm fine" and that couldn't have

been more obvious.  

Because I could see that you didn't have  

to look at the ground to avoid  


Your pale face, the markings on your wrist 

Made up for it.  

I recall one day, asking you the same  

exact question and your eyes grazed mine 

You answered with the same "I'm fine." 

But I didn't have to look at how white your skin had gotten 

Or the fresh marks you had made on your wrist. 

I could see it in your eyes.  

Because at that exact moment I knew 

your heart had shattered and I didn't know what 

To do. 

But I could try and be there. 


You soon became of skin and bones and I  

remember the first night when I stood in 

your bathroom, holding your brown hair whilst you

purged the foods your mother forced you to eat

at supper. Tears flowing down your face as

you continued.  

All I ever wanted to do was help

but I still kept trying to wrap my mind 

over the situation

but I couldn't.


I wish that first time you told me you  

were okay, I would have held you and the 

first time I noticed the markings on your 

skinny wrist, someone else would have noticed as well 

and I wish that when I saw the fragile  

hear, the one sheltered by your ribcage

shatter to piece, I would have 

told someone.  


Because then maybe you wouldn't of have to  

find a reason to avoid my eyes 

Maybe you wouldn't have found an excuse 

to mark your wrist or a purpose to purge 

And maybe, just maybe 

you wouldn't have to 



But the only place you lie is six feet 


with a gravestone 


with words that could  

never sum you up.  


Because it's not written that you were the girl

who did not want others to worry

about her. 

It's not marked that 

You were the girl, I saw,  

lift others up

while you tore yourself down.  

It doesn't say that 

You always found a way to make people

smile and laugh, no matter the situation. 

You had opinions and words that could have

changed the world.  

Though you were terrified to let them be 

spoken or heard 

I wish you could have seen those things 

About yourself, 

before your mother and I  

saw you. 


Your body engulfed in blood that had seeped

from the veins of where your forearm ended

and before the trace of your hand began. 

How pills you took from the medicine cabinet 

sprinkled the dark red ocean that  


around your pale,  

still body. 


I can still hear your mother's screams and cries 

of her begging you to wake up  

whilst I 

 stood with an  

inscrutable expression 

trying to comprehend  

what had happened. 


I learned that death was an unsettling topic

for me when the doctor's pronounced you dead. 

And I remember, I was unable

to speak for a while. 

So after some time,  

somebody asked me, 

how I was doing  

and I simply replied, 

"I'm fine." 


This poem is about: 
Our world


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