Hunger: A Poem in Two Parts

Part One: Far Too Long

She was gone too long, my daughter.
Wrapped in Calvin Kleins
that showed how flat her stomach really was.
I watched her eat all the fettuccine,
even slurping the noodles, nodding approval at me,
letting me know I could cook this supper one more time.

But she was gone too long, my daughter.
And I knew that the meal she savored
was being purged from her seemingly satisfied gut.
That she had once again decided to expel the calories,
acid them up through a throat that must, by now,
be scarred and bruised.

Later I would find the vomit
on places she wouldn’t suspect —
under the rim of the toilet seat
where she forgot to wipe off the evidence.
I watch her grow thin, collarbone catching necklaces in absurd angles,
eyes that sink deeper into her face, too tired to even accuse anymore.

Part Two: Hospital Blood Draw Attempt, 11pm

I offer to hold her down, to sit on her stomach
and pin her to the gurney with my own hands.
She is hollow, collarbone now like chicken wings protruding,
pulsing at me as she tells me no needles, not needles.

I show her my arm, prick it at the bend of my elbow,
show her how easy blood flows.
She curls away from the dripping vein,
fetuses up on me with her face to the wall.

She wears a size two and there are still spaces
between her sunken hips and the denim.
The emergency staff tells me she cannot be forced to be tested.
She’s a minor and they force only drug addicts or DWIs to give.

She tells me that if I force the needle into her arm
she will continue to escape to the bathroom,
vomit whatever she has consumed,
make herself sick. And it will be all my fault.

I pull the curtain between us,
creak it slowly across the track,
and watch my own blood trickle down my arm
and out of my hand.

P1012378Marianne Peel taught English at middle and high school for 32 years. She is now retired, doing Field Instructor work for Michigan State University. She recently won 1st prize for poetry in the Spring 2016 Edition of the Gadfly Literary Magazine. She also won the Pete Edmonds Poetry Prize. In addition, Marianne has been published in Encodings: A Feminist Literary Journal;Write to Heal;Writing for Our Lives: Our Bodies—Hurts, Hungers, Healing; Mother Voices; Metropolitan Woman Magazine; Ophelia’s Mom; Jellyfish Whispers; Remembered Arts Journal. She will have poems published in the fall editions of Muddy River Review and EastLit Journal. Marianne also received Fulbright-Hays Awards to Nepal and Turkey. She is a flute playing vocalist, learning to play ukulele, who is raising four daughters. She shares her life with her partner Scott, whom she met in Istanbul while studying in Turkey. Marianne also taught teachers in Guizhou Province, China for three summers, and she also toured several provinces in China with the Valpraiso Symphony, playing both flute and piccolo, in January of 2016. Most recently, Marianne was invited to participate in Marge Piercy’s Juried Intensive Poetry Workshop in June 2016.