Why I Run
I used to use food like a prize at a fairground,
calories were points I had to earn to level up,
and the game had a glitch so the lowest score won.
I said if I worked hard, then I’d deserve to eat,
but what I meant by this was I had to be in pain.
So when someone says: “You must really like running”
what I want to tell them is: No.
I’ve just replaced one pain for another.
Eating Around The Clock
The dinner plate watches me as if it’s the one in control. The cutlery lies side by side at an angle like it’s raising a questioning eyebrow - even inanimate objects doubt I can do this. I eat around the plate like it’s a clock, and I move just as slowly. Forty minutes pass, I’ve only eaten half the meal which means I’m ten minutes behind schedule - I’m slower than a clock. I pause. It’s another fifteen minutes before I can bring myself to start again and when I do, the food is cold and I microwave it to buy myself some more time. I calculate just how behind schedule I’ve become and it’s the most maths I’ve done in ages. I hate maths but I hate thinking about the food inside me more. But apparently not enough to work out the sums without a calculator. From this, I take heart.
‘One bite at a time’ said no one ever
but I hear it nonetheless.
The spoon feels heavier than it did before and it’s the weight of a mouthful balanced there that I can’t take. I watch the steam. I’ve 'accidentally' made the food too hot to eat. It’s another forty minutes before the second half gets eaten and I wash the empty plate at once, like it’s a dirty secret. The cutlery goes away in a draw and I think about snapping the hands of the clock that tuts at me for taking so long, I could take the clock down and use it as a plate, use the hands like chopsticks and stick a plate to the wall. I think: maybe this would help. But I’m too full to know why.
The word gets stuck in my throat
like food would
if I ate.
It’s pointed, like my bones aren’t
and heavy like I am.
It churns in my mouth as I grind teeth
that clearly just miss having something to do.
And today - everyday - I swallow it down
as my only sustenance
so that nobody will know.
About The Author: Beth O'Brien
Beth O’Brien is a third year English Literature student at the University of Birmingham. She has had work published with Foxglove Journal, Nine Muses Poetry, Dear Reader Poetry, BellaOnline Literary Review, and Pulp Poets Press. She is a reviewer for Mad Hatter Reviews and Riggwelter Press and has written articles for sheswanderful.com and the Graduate Recruitment Bureau blog