Girls called her Skinny Legs
taunting her in gym
and pulling off her towel
to see the galaxy of sores
erupting on her back.

I can’t eat, she said.
But my parents make me.
Flapping her paper hands
she uncrossed the tangle
of her gray brittle legs
wincing when she tripped
on her long flat feet.

Her dad was thin too
but in a different way
his elbows like spikes
as he raised and lowered cigarettes
in a worn dirty chair.

You’re my kind of girl, he said to me,
his voice charred by Winstons.
You don’t look like you’re starvin’.
Behind him his wife gathered bottles
and emptied ashtrays
stopping to fix the flip
on the black-and-white TV.

Open the Goddamn curtains
and quit your flirtin’, her mother said.
Raking his chin with thick foggy nails
her father drank
spitting back ice
into a cracked plastic glass.

Image credit:Fernanda Marin

Ann Kammerer lives near Chicago, and is a recent transplant from her home state of Michigan. Her short fiction and narrative poetry have appeared in several publications and anthologies, and have received top honors in a writing contest or two.