The Maynard
Spring 2016

Mallory Tater

Ottawa Hospital: Eating Disorder Ward

You are lost in a brown chair,
asked do you like ice cream
when you do not like anything.
Well, do you, do you like sweets.
Your stomach remembers two answers.
It was Robin who told you
to lose weight for the first time
at Vanessa’s gymnastics birthday party.
It was Lydia in her backyard before
dinner who told you to ask for a ride
because you’d eat the portions of
her mother and sister and this
would be too laughable. Robin made
you run in circles around the room
while the other girls held each
other on balance beams. You still
remember the sweat in your palms and
saying no to birthday cake, girls pinching
their stomachs at you, not knowing this would
instill a morning habit in you, not knowing
their words would turn your clavicles to metal.
You remember your mom looking at you
through the rearview at a red light, asking why
are you pinching yourself, stop pinching
yourself. The answer you gave her:
The bigness of me was once so small.

And now it would be more present to you
than anything could ever be. The doctor
presents to you a cup of KozyShack rice pudding,
and you know your mother sold you out,
told him it’s your favourite. All sugar has become
excessive and false. Bribes drip with syrup, voices
honeyed, premeditated. It seems that soon your heart will freeze
in place.
You taste his cold words, and the buttered weight
of what health now means to your withered body,
lanugoed arms, thinning mind. He offers you a spoon,
says you’ve earned the right to eat this.

In the stairwell, you eat three raisins, phone your father.
A nurse races down the stairs gripping a needle
freshly filled with another girl’s blood.
When can I rest in this body,
I’ve been dying to rest in this body.