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In The Mirror of the People You Hate

Updated: Jun 7, 2021

IMAGE: Two sneakers lie on muddy floorboards

Darkness could only wrap around you for so long.

Bruises always heal over time.

Blood will clot.

Tears dry.

You worked hard all year, against wind and rain of autumn,

ploughing through winter snows,

before a crisp spring gave way to long hot summer sweat,

humidity and hope for a smile that would last.

Routine of the runs,

complemented a refuelling regime of military discipline.

Just what the doctor ordered.

That and the pills.

Then obsession of bathroom scales took hold.

Straight off with clothes covered in sweat,

eyes closed, anticipation,

waiting for the beep then look down to the reveal.

That moment was why you ran,

Week one - one pound, week two - two pound,

The trips to the gym for the weight sessions took toll.

Bringing definitions and tone.

As months wore on invisibility disappeared,

people who would look straight through you looked you up and down.

Runs became longer as the year wore on,

the scales told a tale of pounds added.

You were fighting back.

The mirror would have its say,

Who the hell are you?

Stare back at a face that never smiled,

remove clothes, prod fingers into body to see the changing.

It was, but it wasn't.

Inhale, hold your breath,

feel the sharpness of your rib cage as your stomach fell away.

Unfiltered tears slip down

You could ask yourself why; but never have an answer.

Once tight skin hung loose from bones,

perfect tan of years previous just

a memory as fingertips gently circled

sores and lesions on your sad neck, shoulder, and breast.

Long straight hair would hang limp as if all hope lost

cracks round grey eyes would remind you of tears

and memories of the tears would remind you of him.

Him, and his fists.

And of the silent poison camouflaged as a love that had taken you,

and left you,

at death’s door.

But fuck all that.

Take a big deep breath, wipe away the last of those tears.

For you are fighting back, my friend.

Move on.

Writing by RAY HOPKINS

Artwork by NIKKI PRICE

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