Skeletons By Kaitlyn Gaffney


it isn’t often that people
quite understand
what it’s like to sit
across from a skeleton.

i can tell you.
i would often scan the girls
in the group clinic room.
mostly i would
stare at
or through
the ones
who weren’t talking,
their eyes drawn to their hands
being swallowed by their laps
being swallowed by their chairs.
they were

“i am a cold 8,” i would tell the group therapist,
rating my
post-mandated-dinner fullness
on a descriptive scale
from one to ten.
i am a cold 8, i would tell her,
feeling the dinner in my
gut like a cinderblock
left out in the cold,
feeling my dinner
like i had eaten all of their dinners, too,
and the quarters in
their bathrobe pockets,
and all of
their secrets.

this is what it’s like
to sit across from a skeleton.

calling out from the
darkest shutters
of my psyche
to pairs of eyes that
didn’t quite know
what they were staring at —
preparing to unearth
the skeletons in my closet
and realizing
they were lined up before me
like death row inmates.

listening to stories
of blued skin shrinking
or growing taught —
of the chill of knees on
sparkling tile floors and
long, long nights,
of bones jutting out like
shards of crystal
or like
arrows, pointing
in contradictory directions
so they didn’t go anywhere.

i can tell you
the joy of seeing the healing —
the swell of hips,
the glow of dimples,
the talk of God or happiness or health.

i can tell you
that this disease
is not
about food
or bodies
as much as it is
the harrowing ache
of guilt.

this is
what it’s like
to sit across from a skeleton —
and perhaps
more intimately
what it is like
to have been one.

By Kaitlyn Gaffney


Kaitlyn Gaffney is a North Jersey poet and a dual major in Writing Arts & English at Rowan University. She is the author of a poetry chapbook called Four Eulogies and has produced two original plays through Rowan. In her free time, she likes to listen to heavy metal, play music, and yell about intersectional feminism.

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