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Poetry and Medicine
June 11, 2003

An Anorexic Student

Author Affiliations

Poetry and Medicine Section Editor: Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 2003;289(22):2910. doi:10.1001/jama.289.22.2910

I cannot find the voice for you,
Something left unsaid, impossible
In your presence, culture-bound to vogue,
The central attraction to runway values,
The tights and blouse that cling
To 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
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 a 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 physicians' count
Those studio teeth will calcify
Hard as stone—the heart gone—
And I will insist I have some voice
In matter, asking
For what you would only scorn,
Some small honor grieving still.

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