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Pectoriloquy |

Daddy’s Little Girl: For Dr. Sarah Esselstyn Howell (who saved a lot of us) FREE TO VIEW

Julie Anne Finch
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Editor’s Note:The author writes, “I suffered from anorexia nervosa as a child. I am a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin where I majored in communications, minored in English. I worked for many years as an advertising copywriter.”

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians. See online for more details.


Chest. 2014;146(2):525. doi:10.1378/chest.13-2651
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She said when you’re a target
(Raging father)
You try to make yourself as small
As possible, that’s when the illness hit.
At 11, she refused all food except apples
And milk, her body caved in
Upon itself, a fury so terrifying
It left her hard, angles and bones.
Like a clamor of angels demanding revenge
A self-imposed sabbatical on life, on pleasure
An A bomb in the middle of unhappy family land
Her mother panicked: anorexia nervosa.
The child didn’t care, her mind buzzing
With the madness that comes from
Being truly starved
For love or attention, it didn’t matter;
Nothing did, but that the weight
Kept falling off.
She looked not unlike an Auschwitz survivor,
The bathroom scale something of a clock
Waiting, waiting, for the intravenous
Drip to build her back up.
Her mother, a kind woman, took her
To a tall, big boned lady with enormous bug eyes
And many fancy degrees—
They talked.
They worked it out.
It took years.
Now, as her aging father shrinks in size
She brings him protein drinks for sustenance
And thinks, what a funny way life has
Of forging forgiveness.
Mercy is the thing you give to the ones once
Unequipped to give it to you
But mostly themselves,
Mirrors being brutal, brutal.


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