(after “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver)
You do not have to starve.
You do not have to feel guilt
for the cookie you ate at lunch,
or the fat-free, low-carb crackers after dinner.
You only have to accept the natural desire for food
that everyone feels.
Tell me your anguish, and I will listen.
Meanwhile, no one sees.
Meanwhile, you tear yourself apart
in a depression that leaves you nothing
but an image of love handles spilling out the top of your jeans
or thighs that stick together when you stand straight
and stare into the mirror,
hoping to disappear from the world.
Whoever you are,
you must accept it.
You must learn to love yourself
as others love you,
and love your life for what it is, unconditionally,
and with a full stomach.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.