Pecking

They tell her it’s good for her

and that they’re guilty they noticed too late

that it’s vital for her

it’s wrong

(what she’s been doing during this prolonged period of pain).

 

Their scintillating partridge is ceaselessly pecking at her imperfections

as her physique shrinks

her sallow cheeks sink

mirrors imitate something that moos. 

 

She is scarcely pecking at her plate

counting peas like points against her

cramming dinner rolls into napkins

crying as they throw threats

crushing her confidence

     crumb by crumb.

 

Too full of self-loathing, her appetite is an apparition

only present at night – haunting                                 

 

skirts slide like soap down her sides

while ribs are raised to the surface.

 

They offer her delicacies only duchesses taste

each turned away – potentially poisonous,           

taking her to talk about her “problem”

telling her she’s beautiful

treating her as if she’s an egg in the wind sitting atop a skyscraper.

If she should try to fly

she’ll only crack

against the sidewalk

 

Funneling food into her mouth

regurgitated in reverse recompense

pennies packaged in pockets.

“pounds”

outsmarting the scale                                                              

 

Tears fall and collect like the feathers found in a battered down pillow,

everyone wondering when their pecking will perish.

 

She is the bone of the wing of the bird she was

     weathered

          flimsy

               hollow.

 

Just eat it, they say

but no one knows the price she will pay.

 

Gillian Schuyler

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