on the bench that’s been there since the 70s
with her face poised perfectly for smiling
and for making eyes at strangers.
she's a well-mannered liar
screaming on the inside
thinking about her thighs
and the way they feel bigger today
and how she can never quite seem
to lose those last five pounds.
and she contemplates her outfit
and if the brown skirt she chose
really does match the black top.
and why hasn't anyone looked at her?
she's cute, dammit, and she’s wearing new shoes.
she's tired and walking seems too arduous
so, she pretends to be on an important phone call
when she should be eating lunch
or at least drinking juice
because the lightheaded feeling
won’t go away on its own.
but she's used to the spinning, dizzy numbness
it's her constant companion
each day between alarm clock and dinner.
it's easier to skip lunch, she thinks
and so, she does.
today, she's a voyeur
talking over pizza
or a turkey club with crisp bacon, dripping in mayonnaise and cheese.
and she wants to smell their breath
to figure out how they can eat and be okay
because she can’t even smell bacon
without thinking about throwing it up.
she keeps sitting beneath a sky wearing its finest blue jacket
checking for text messages
scanning the street
dreaming of eating a bucket of fried chicken
or chocolate soup
and then running
shedding 15 pounds and 8,000 calories
she knows she will run later
before rewarding her stomach with half a bagel.
and maybe, if she pushes her body to its bitter end
she'll eat cream cheese, too.
the illusion of control gives her comfort
and, happy, she remains in her quiet prison
where nobody can hear her screaming
if she never opens her mouth.