She asks if I have been eating and I say yes, I have. I never
miss a meal. Every day I sit down and fork pieces of sadness,
swallowing sorrow that melts on my tongue until my teeth chatter
and my bones start to shake out of my skin.
I say I’m trying something new, an experiment.
I’m living on six glasses of water a day.
I wear hunger like armour, my collarbones steel-plated,
chainmail ribs clattering whenever I breathe.
These cravings hit me like arrows but snap like finger-bones
and my hands whisper envy, envy, envy. Hunger
gives me a paintbrush and teaches me to be an artist,
sketching out dotted lines on where to crease the skin,
carving flesh away into sharp-edged origami.
It is walking along a high-wire, sculpting this silhouette
thin as a pane of glass with a chisel in trembling fingers,
praying all the while that I will not shatter. I fold myself
into a paper crane because birds have hollow bones
and maybe this way I will be weightless, maybe this way
he will love me. I have always been too much—
too queer, too radical, too mentally ill, too much to hold in these
two hands. The less of me there is, the more loveable I become.
Hunger is a way to forget his voice. The sharpness of skin
draped over ribs almost overwhelms the sharpness of memories,
the way he looked at me as if I was part deformity,
wriggling-worm tongue never human enough to be more
than a pile of waste not worth paying attention to unless I
was monster—nowadays, all I ever taste is dirt.
At midnight hunger takes me in its arms
and I find comfort in the jagged glass inside my stomach.
It reminds me of what it felt like to be alive, back before
life was holding my breath and tiptoeing around a man
so I wouldn’t remind him of the air in my lungs,
so he would have more room, before life was pleating myself
into boxes stacked in corners and hoping he would forget
about the matter I took up in all the wrong ways, before life
was a reminder of all my failures to exist as I should.
Hunger coaxes my skeleton out of my skin and she sings,
We’re halfway there, baby. Halfway to a ghost.
I walk to the kitchen and stand in front of the fridge
and it is beautiful, the way the liquid moonlight gleams
against the unopened seals on everything lining the shelves
and the whole time, hunger is right beside me and it
follows me back to bed to spoon me under the covers
and hold my hand, singing me lullabies until I fall into a sleep
where taking up space doesn’t make me feel like I am
an outsider in my own skin
By Martina Dominique Dansereau
Martina Dominique Dansereau is a disabled, non-binary lesbian writer and artist whose work centres on trauma and marginalisation, particularly through personal experiences with violence, disability, mental illness, gender, and LGBT issues. When not entrenched in academia or creating art, xe enjoys reading books with xyr snakes, who often fall asleep between the pages. You can find xem on Twitter and Instagram @herpetologics.