By Amelia Harrington
Discussed: eating disorders
This piece is a very personal reflection of a time in my life where I felt a need to be more grounded and reevaluate my relationship with eating.
When I was wheeled in to the day room, the first thing that caught my eye Was that big plastic bin Packed with bruised bananas and wrapper sweets that shone in the plastic light Like little diamonds in the rough of the trash and the ripped paper plates and the spilled Pringles And a package of Oreos with the top torn and shredded like it’s been violated Comparing wounds with the sugary green Sprite bottles squeezed so they look like corseted fashion models at the waist The occasional bulimic Coca Cola joins their mix, fizzing and foaming at the mouth Just like those girls they will pop, eventually Before we are ordered to our beds, I make my move And snatch several snacks to devour when the lights are all out Sugar and salt and something like strawberry jam touches my tongue Until only one goody is spared I know that when I finally take that bite, I will taste the brittleness and the confectioner’s sugar And when the wrapper is empty, there is only me And the dark room, and the luminous ghost of the hallway light And the footsteps, And the truth of my gluttony And so I take that final treat I hide it beside my bed Draw up the sheets, knowing I’m happy it’s there Because in this little realm of temptation, I can control me Even as the world spins and sinks below my feet Day after day it will wait for me Like Persephone’s fateful pomegranate I will not take the bite, I swear, and as long as I do not I am free My little oatmeal cookie
I wrote this poem very suddenly and made only minimal changes since then. This was reflective of just how long I had been dwelling on the topics and experiences it discusses, though I did not quite yet feel comfortable in sharing it via my writing. Or rather, I was not exactly sure what to say, and I dreaded reliving those memories in the process of writing the poem.
This is the second poem I ever wrote speaking about a personal experience, rather than something fantastical or mythical. I found it very cathartic, particularly in how the poem highlighted my distorted reliance on something so small and insignificant to feel stable.
The artwork paired with the poem, although it does not depict the “oatmeal cookie” or other imagery discussed in the poem, reflects more of an internal state of mind and self perception relating to that time.
Amelia Harrington is a high school senior in Queens, New York, with a passion for anthropology and languages. She also writes short stories, poetry and longer novel projects. Her writing highlights identities and corresponding struggles that represent her and her peers. She focuses on LGBTQ+ and mental health issues in order to mitigate stigma. In sharing her own experiences, she hopes to find an outlet for expression, connection and starting meaningful discussions. She hopes to raise awareness towards the treatment of mentally ill youth historically and currently, highlighting the extent of the issue and what we can do to change.