Red Ink

March 10, 2008
By Jessica Bodford, Raleigh, NC

There was a girl who knew no pain, no strife,
Whose parents loved her, and whose sight of life
Was filled with glory—promises so fair
Of friends, of faith, of happiness and care.

She chose to live from dawn ‘til dusk; each day
Held rays of hope to chase her fears away
Of bowing down to what her peers loved most—
To things not meant for children of to boast.

But times, they change—and as the years passed on
The girl grew far from what she wished were dawn
And bowed toward night—toward loneliness and hate
Of whom she failed to be in looks, in weight—
And as she delved so deep into despair
A hint of light spread through the misty air
And led her down a path more dark, more tried
Where friends and family could not help her hide
From what she knew was hopeless in this world:
Perfection, and it was this thought she hurled
Into the night, where none could see her show
The inmost of her heart, her hopes so low.

Whereas her friends of old had loved to sing,
To dance and laugh and let sheer glory ring
Throughout the air so filled with love and light,
Whose minds saw earth as heavenly in sight,
And stars as flames of fate meant to be caught—
The ones with whom she found herself did not.

At first the night came slowly—crept along
The same path where she knew did not belong
Beneath her feet—those mounds of flesh and veins
That now stood bound in slavery and chains,
Because this girl felt less than what she’d been:
A ghost without the might to clear be seen
Amidst a world more flawless than was she,
Where dwelt the perfect, popular, and free.

And so she bowed to darkness as it came,
To hopes of changing to become the same
As were the friends with whom she now felt close,
And with a shaking step—her trembling toes—
She sank into the darkness ‘round the path,
Too desperate to feel strong the waves of wrath
That poured from those who shunned the meek, the strange—
The flaws this ghost once had that now must change.

And so this girl, this form of flesh long dead,
Bestowed upon each friend a pen of red
And asked each one to show what need be moved—
Be altered, added, taken, or removed—
For if it was perfection she would gain,
She would not stop until she reached in vain
Just what she had for so long fought to win:
Sheer beauty in her face and hair and skin—
A life of friends who cared not for her cries
But for her clothes, her makeup, and her size.
And even as she stood, she seemed to shrink
As moments passed, and still no touch of ink
Alit upon her skin so cold, so pale—
No pen moved forth to kiss this body frail.

But then there was the sound of shifting foot,
And on her arm ‘twas where the tip was put,
And as she watched, a trail of red appeared
To outline flaws that for so long she’d feared
Would keep her far from happiness with those
Now circling wide her face, her hips, her nose,
And soon she felt the waters of a flood
Lap strong against her toes—a sea of blood
Where from her form spilled forth a stream of red
That doused all else from sight while on she bled.

And so it came to be that this sole shade—
This ghost who had so long hoped not to fade—
Delved so far ‘neath the shadow of the wood
That on the path her naked feet now stood
That she became more loved, more fine, more fair—
Her plastic lips, the highlights in her hair—
And all the while her true self sank away,
This girl who once was free became the prey
Of those who knew no happiness, no light—
Who chose to lurk in solitude and night.

And then she died, this victim of the red
Where ink of hate, of imperfection spread
O’er every fiber where could be no cure
To save this girl once beautiful, once pure,
Who need not have succumbed to pressures faced
When yearning for the ideal sacred taste
Of light where only shadows then could dwell,
And on she lived: this flawless, empty shell.

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