In late autumn, when the leaves
Skittered like ghoulish crisp packets
On the glassy ground, my mother
Frogmarched me to the doctor,
Muttering lines about
Blown blood sugar and gut stained
Toilet bowls and breath that smelled
Of decay. My cannibal-body wilted
In the small plastic chair, and I
Rested my chin on my palm,
Like a crumpled sheet of paper. The
Doctor was tinkling skirts and woodsmoke,
Hippy-dippy middle-class thing; she read
My weight backwards and chimed “she’s as thin
As an ice-pick. Her eyes are haunted.” I smirked
And blew pink bubbles into the paused air,
Skinny bitch, all ghoulish pride. Anorexia
was a crass hand on my shoulder, something
to clutch in the night when leg muscles
knotted and stomach complained. We were
a pencil sketch of black, twisted hands, two
hands under the desk in the crude classroom,
two sides of the same dark pill. Doctor said
“Maybe she needs a car,” as though the
Problem was my location, or my transport,
As though I could drive into the forget-me-not
Dusk and eat coffee cake on a bench coated
In tumbleweed, I just needed some wheels,
Goddamnit, Some black rubber tyres to coast
me away from this wretched place. After anointed
Appointment I cried in the corridor, all white milk
And roses, all freeze-fog, all bruised anger. Then
My mother clutched my bird-palm in hers and we
Were two cream hands in the half-light, one dark
Hand on the heart.


Naoise Gale is a twenty-year-old Modern Languages student living in Italy. She writes poems, short stories and novellas about mental health and eating disorders. Her work has been published numerous times in Young Writers’ UK anthologies.