I used to wish

myself sicker,

the ribs spiking through,

the spine bent and curved,

and the hunger thicker.

I used to wish

myself lighter,

with feathered touch,

all the boys can lift me

so they can blow on me further.

I hold now

my whole self tightly,

I feed myself and

cut the bread

that keeps me softly.

I learn now

the gestures of care,

the hand between legs

and the slow kisses

of selfish tenderness.

I swaddle now

my crying fires

until they burn low,

and instead of ashes

they leave a humming glow.

I care now

for myself as my own,

a daughter or friend,

a necessary, well-fed,

lover of myself.