I was seventeen when the distance between
that moment and tomorrow
became too far for half steps.
The conveyor belt at the grocery store was a grey tongue,
an entire bottle of Advil turning on its side.
I drove until it was empty.
Until a man who’d made me his teenage fantasy
wanted to test himself of the ropes of heroism.
Until I’d learned that milk and charcoal
both taste the same kind of bad when someone is holding your cheeks,
thumbs pressed against your teeth,
pouring it down your throat –
an unwilling trade
for waking up in a strange room with
an anorexic teenage girl –
who was half my size,
with big brown eyes and the softest hair.
She wanted to be a model,
to be famous –
who pulled me off the floor and onto her bed,
let my head lay against her chest,
let me cry dark stains into her nightshirt…
And I have never, in all these years, been held like that twelve-year-old, anorexic, black girl held me that night.
© Laura A. Lord, 2020