Portfolio of Hope

At 14, I was taking in the caloric equivalent of the food energy available to famine victims.
All the while I did my schoolwork diligently and kept quiet in the classroom.
A wind-up obedience toy, my teachers approved of me. They saw nothing wrong with what I was doing
even though my ribs were hooks
and my spine a dull blade
and my hunger a heavy shield.
Now, when I can bring myself to think of that time, my sadness can’t shake off the rage that follows it close behind.
To whom do I petition for those lost years?
How many inches in height did I lose from having calcium withheld from my bones?
How many years sooner will a brittle spine bend my neck down?
Who is obliged to make reparations to me for the thought abandoned,
the energy never found,
the explorations never considered
because all I could think about was food?
I can say finally, ‘not me.’
Not guilty.
Not that child.
There is certainly a charge of guilt to be made, long overdue, but it doesn’t belong to me. It belongs somewhere, and to something, else.
It belongs to the overwhelmingly powerful message of our culture, which I found no amount of parental love and support strong enough to override.
Even though I knew my parents wanted me not to starve because they loved me, their love contradicted the message of the larger world,
which wanted me to starve in order to love me.

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