I Listened

by Emma Nadine


Some people say that depression is like sadness

that never goes away

As though my only symptoms are a frown

and an attitude

As though being sad for a day can etch bloody scars into blank slates

I used to be beautiful

But depression hangs on to me

like a parasitic steam bath

Opening my pores to weave its way deeper


Some people say taking a deep breath

makes it easier to handle

As though my lungs aren’t filled halfway up with dread

Let me drown in it

This time being half full doesn’t make me optimistic


Some people say, “get over it”

As though the bottle of pills under my pillow

doesn’t call to me every night

As though I don’t wear a cloak of fragility that screams

“I listened”

Mirror, Mirror

The mirror hacked up her image,

Eyes, teeth, skin,

slapped her with it

and watched it drip down

the cottage cheese rolls

of her body.

Disgusted, she could feel

the chunks of undigested disgrace –

find their way around her frame,

sliding and turning

like cars driving over

fat hills, till they hit

the floor.

She knew the truth of the reflection:

that this plate of glass

would be the only

thing to look at her.

Was she beautiful?

Her mother told her yes,

but then again her mother

wasn’t swollen from failure

and the hour

missed at the gym.

Maybe the mirror lies,

jealous of her petite frame,

displeased with its own.

But that would mean

she was beautiful.

And that could not be true.

Because she could still smell

the sour vomit,

the tickling, unwanted flesh that hung

like soaked cotton

on her arms.

It began to dry,

a permanent reminder of

imperfection, stuck

and crusted to every

part of her that

she wished

to destroy.

A door opened behind her,

the girl: drenched in the vomit

of her own creation,

lost in the mirror.

Her mother:

watching a skeleton cry

its bones trapped

and pushing through, stretching

the skin that jailed them inside.

Vomit slipped down

its frame, no curves or ridges

to slow it down.

The skeleton stood,

crying tears of failure;

of the things only she could see.

And the mother watched,

crying tears of failure;

wondering what she could

have done.

And the mirror spoke to them both:

Was she beautiful?

‘No, no.’​

by Nicolette Tingo