Once I knew a boy who liked to eat books.
He did it secretly, would twist his shutters
shut and crouch near the windowsill.
He'd unwrap a page from its spine
and pull it, crinkling, into his mouth.
Slow chews. Ink running on his tongue, stained black.
His Adam's apple bobbing
when he swallowed. Then he'd unfold another
page, chew it to a pulp, eyes wide the whole time.
It got to the point that whole books went missing
from the library, but no one could picture the quiet boy
with leather-tipped covers against his teeth,
thin drool sliding down the front.
He said to me that no one knew, but he had a secret to share:
Listen, listen; he said there were little
bites still sitting in his stomach, giving him
nourishment when he was empty.
He could feel them, their weight, wanted me to have a chance.
So I laid my head on his stomach,
listening to the gurgle of his insides,
feeling for the lumps he'd needed to tell someone about.
Katherine Liu is a sophomore at Adlai E Stevenson High School. She is on the editing staffs of Polyphony HS, The Platinum Journal, and her school's literary magazine. Her poetry appears or is forthcoming in The Wit, The Platinum Journal, Cuckoo Quarterly, and 3Elements Review.