Vanishing Act by Cheryl Pearson

Trigger Warning: Self-Harm

Hunger, I understand hunger. God,

as a youngster, I’d have broken if bent. And yet

it felt like strength. Sometimes I wonder

if I’ll ever feel so mighty again. But yes, now you ask,

it was lonely. To be filled with air, and only air.

All the bowls my body made. All the bowls

in the cupboards, empty. Call it selfish. Call it

what you want. Then I called it necessary.

My locked mouth over soft teeth. Kneebones

knots in a string. The freckles on my shoulder

spelled No. If you tightened your eyes. If you

believed in that kind of thing. Portents.

Signs. I believed in the pale legendary saints

who went for weeks without, still smiling.

Regarding miracles: if you are reading,

you too may know how to make a body shallow.

How to keep breathing, under. Tell yourself

you cannot drown in inches of water. That stings

cannot hide when you’re clear. It’s a textbook

trick. I know it now, bleeding four-weekly,

fleshier. Still I remember. How it felt like

magic. To say the words – eaten already /

ill / full. To dust my hands. To disappear.


Cheryl Pearson

Cheryl Pearson

Cheryl Pearson is a poet and story writer from Manchester, England. Her poems have appeared in publications including The Guardian, Frontier, and Poetry NorthWest, and she has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Stories are forthcoming in Fictive Dream, TSS, and Confingo. Her poetry collection, “Oysterlight”, is available now.
Cheryl Pearson

Latest posts by Cheryl Pearson (see all)