Anorexia Nervosa

Her mother was a sturdy farmer’s wife

who struggled up and down hillocks

on stony frozen Estonia grassland

herding grazing Guernseys,

a babushka wrapped around her head.

Crusty callused hands rarely held her,

for she was just one more bleating

goat or calf demanding to be fed.

Her body hungered to be touched,

she no longer wanted to be fed.

Breathing in, she held back molten tears.

Striving for perfection she built a dam

of cobblestones, quarantining pangs

of hunger in a fetishistic crypt.

No one can ever know her, she kept the curious

at bay, hiding whispered secrets father warned

her not to say when he cuddled her in bed demanding

she keep silent.

Father lived his days in dread with so much to conceal,

hiding gold coins, a silver samovar and the copper bottom

shabbos chulent pot he buried when drunken Cossacks

came his way.

Emaciated and bereft, her sunken hazel eyes

flitting back and forth betray her as she

deftly side-steps all who try to nurture

her withered innards and trickle

of evaporating blood; her shriveled belly

no longer howls; her shadowy slight-of-hand

disarmed, blinded all to the masquerade of how

she blunts the spark of Eros cascading from

hands that long to hold her.

Milton P. Ehrlich 199 Christie Leonia, N.J. 07605