She writes down all the answers but she doesn’t raise her hand.
She bites her lip to keep her mouth from moving.
She never stays behind to ask a question after class:
she comes and goes and sits there, just achieving,
pushing up the school’s league table ranking,
never acting out or showing signs of EBD.
Her Belsen ribs, her jutting hipbones, are the things you’ll never see.
Her baggy jumper hides the fact she’s starving.
Long sleeves conceal the calendar of pain marked on her arms,
the scars in laddered red and pink and white,
and so you kid yourself good girls like her will never come to harm.
You never see her on the streets at night
because she knows to shun the streetlights and the places people gather.
She knows the paths that she can safely walk,
where girls won’t glare, boys won’t see her as sport,
whose emptiness reflects the wound inside her,
the rift between her body and the things she wants to feel,
the dawning knowledge that she cannot do enough:
that no matter how much weight she drops, she’ll never be a girl;
that she’s criminally fragile in a world that wants her tough.