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What Could Have Been

She lies on her bed,
studying for a test weeks away.
From one prominent rib,
to the next,
skin is stretched like a xylophone on her stomach.

Her radio clock glows a green 7:30.
Methodically she rises.
She walks up the carpeted stars to turn on the shower.
Warm rain awakens her, different from the constant chill.
As she scrubs her emaciated frame, self-doubt gnaws on her soul.

Now 16 years old,
she leaps and twirls, mirrors are her constant coach.
They scream at her.
They torture her.
They are unyielding in their criticism.
Feet thump against the polished floor and she does her best not to see.
But as she pirouettes, her sunken eyes can't ignore their draw.

Inner demons cry out,
like the piercing shriek of a wrong clarinet fingering,
"What must I be to please you?"
she asks, but she knows the answer.
Be nicer.
Be smarter.
Be skinnier.
Be Perfect.

This is all she knows.
This is all she hears.
Hiding in flowing waves of fabric brings peace,
the shrill RING! of the lunch bell brings terror.
And at 16
she pushes her peas around her plate like she did at six.




This game she plays,
herself and the voices in her head,
will never end. She will never win, never get bored.
For in this game, there is always room for improvement.

Now 17
she lies in the sterile white linens.
Hooked up to a machine that keeps a metronomic beat.
Her gaunt face no longer beautiful.
Her legs no longer able to support her ill body.
Still the demons cry out until they will never be heard again.

Be nicer.

Be smarter.

Be skinnier.

Be Perfect.





Join the Discussion

This article has 8 comments. Post your own now!

jettabug This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 3, 2012 at 9:19 pm
The entire time I read this, I had images of the girl in my head. Having suffered through the same type of thing, this story is very relatable to me. As a fellow clarinet player, your descriptions that relate to clarinets and music really struck a chord with me. (No pun intended.) You are a superb writer. Keep writing, and good luck on your future writing endeavors!
 
bassoonkid This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 21, 2012 at 12:53 am
Wow! I have written lame old poetry for a long time, but never come close to something like this. It is very detailed! I love the pictures you can paint when reading. It's very entertaining
 
myraahmad said...
Feb. 2, 2012 at 8:11 am
Wow. This is such a powerful poem. It haunts you and captivates you, and the strong imagery just ... wow, what can I say. Keep it up
 
JaneCapelle This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 15, 2012 at 6:11 pm
This is.. haunting, amazing, beautiful, motivating...i think it's got a meaningful inner message...overall, 5/5
 
Morning said...
Dec. 31, 2011 at 1:45 pm
Wow! This is a haunting poem. You had some really nice concrete images. The repitition was also a good touch. Keep Writing!
 
MumblingMelanie This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 26, 2011 at 9:11 pm
Beautiful in a dark way. You are quite eloquent, for sure. I truly enjoyed reading this! Also, I notice you play the clarinet. So do I...*virtual high five*
 
star2brite This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 18, 2011 at 4:43 pm
My favorite line was "skin is stretched like a xylophone on her stomach." That is such a powerful image. Great piece of writing!
 
babysteps said...
Dec. 16, 2011 at 7:18 pm
You did an AMAZING job on this! It is so well written I had to read it multiple times to enjoy the complexity of the poem. just fabulous job!
 
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