I loop my trembling hands around my thigh.
Against your sinful tradition,
Shrink my lustful, swollen flesh to brittle skull and bone.
In the sacred garden of Eden,
Her pulsing roots and bloated fruits,
I sit strait-laced on my ivory throne.
My tongue hangs like a slug at the back of my throat.
When I reach for the tree, the serpent whispers:
Ashes to ashes,
Dust to dust,
Apples to thigh,
Bread to breast.
Another sleepless night,
Spine piercing mattress,
Teeth screech and joints grind in the dark.
Make me terribly ill.
Strand me on an island,
Sink a ship,
Kill a farmer,
Bring the flood,
Start a war.
Make my famine outwardly imposed,
I don’t know how much longer I can hold my breath.
Sitting in the pews with my crying mother.
She prays for me to get better.
The bench feels cold and hard on my bum.
I watch poor Jesus.
Kiss my coccyx
Tighten my chest
Make me hollow
Then fill me with you.
Manon Martini is an MA student of English Literature at the University of Exeter.
Of the poem featured, Manon states:
‘My interpretation of the ‘Shortage’ prompt encapsulates my experience of suffering with Anorexia Nervosa and the relentless torture of self-restriction and a kind of self-imposed food shortage. The poem articulates the ways in which a lack of food and nutrients can impair rational thinking and judgement as the disorder manifests its own insidious thoughts in the mind and underpins everything a person thinks or does. Inspired by Northern Irish cultural history and literature, my poem also explores questions of famine, poverty and religion and the ways in which these socio-political issues interact and co-exist with eating disorders.’