On Voices and Other Ways of Speaking

I am 14 and I am sinking to the bathroom floor for the third time this week.

I read all the instructions,

Filled out all the forms,

But still I have fallen behind.

I never speak up in class,

Don't introduce myself,

Can't ask which way to the front office.

I can't figure out why a new high school and anxiety don't mix.

It is winter and I am staring at a full dinner plate again.

I bookmarked all the diet tip blogs

And hid the bathroom scale in my closet.

It's easier to keep silent when Mom tells me I'm losing weight.

An eating disorder is unfortunately the one thing I have gotten right.

Two months and twenty pounds later I am swinging my feet from a psychologist's couch.

Words are humming in my veins

But my mouth has never worked under pressure.

He sends me home with a journal and a pen

And I stare at them for hours,

Unsure if this page will betray me and say out loud the things I keep so secret.

I am driven crazy by the thought of unraveling myself on paper

But the words hidden in my chest make their way up my throat.

Every part of me screams "help" and poetry says "write"

My hand is flying, line after line of pain,

Of anger,

Of shame and honesty and tragedy and hope.

My mouth is silent but my soul is speaking

Everything I have been too afraid to admit.

This art requires no rehearsals,

No practices to make me perfect,

No workouts to transform me into something I am not.

The pen runs dry but my fingertips burn

With the desire to say more,

To speak on my behalf for one more line.

One more page. One more poem.

For the first time in my life, my heart is quiet.

I can look at my mind spilled onto paper

And not be afraid to read it aloud.

I have never been comfortable with talking about myself

But I can let this art speak for me.

Every line in every poem is just another syllable

To the story I hold in my heart.

Let me read it to you.

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