Balancing Act

Courtney LeBlanc

Kate Snow

Blessing for the Girls With Eating Disorders

because I know what it’s like to make lists of food
you’ll never allow yourself to eat, to let your fingers
trip through a cookbook, using Post-Its to mark
recipes you’ll never make. Bless the girls who see
a buffet as the most deliciously terrifying thing,
whose friends marvel at her getting seconds
and thirds, without knowing she’ll kneel before
the toilet and without a sound, bring everything
back up—the eating reversed until the very first
thing she swallowed brushes past her teeth and 
kisses her lips as it leaves. Bless the girls who log
every morsel they eat, who know the calorie
count of every meal, who track their workouts
and calories and go to sleep with the dull ache
of hunger in their bellies. Bless the ones who break
the cycle and the ones who don’t. Bless the girls
who see themselves in this poem. Bless the girl
writing it, for the words reflecting in her eyes
and feeling like home.




The scales are always there – judgement 
teetering from side to side, my worth
in the balance. It’s not every act or deed
I’m judged against but each tender
bite I allow to pass my lips, the calories
required to live weighed against my body’s
longing to be ever-smaller. The irony
of my appetite is never lost on me – 
the craving for food, the pining for less,
the lust to have it all, the compulsion
to pretend this life is normal. 



Even on a Weekend Away I Can’t Stop My Type A Brain from Making Lists

I make a list of everything I need
to do – groceries to get, emails
to respond to, dogs to walk,
meals to make. For every task
I cross off I add two more – 
Sisyphus forever pushing that
boulder up the hill. This weekend
we’re in the woods, away from
the responsibilities of daily life
but even here I am aware of what
awaits me when I return home – 
the car that will need washing, 
the laundry that will need to be
folded and put away, the never
ending duties of a life lived. 



Once / Now / Sometimes

Once I ran mountains – 5k,
10k, 10 miles, 26.2 miles, and even
55k. I reveled in my body’s ability
to keep moving, to ignore the pain
building in my muscles, to push
until the end when I crossed
the finish line, arms raised in
exultation. Now, a decade later,
I bear the scars of a surgeon’s 
blade, the small incisions where
he inserted instruments and
reattached my meniscus – I’d torn
it from the bone. Instead of miles
I now measure my run in time:
I’m up to 30-second intervals.
I try to remember recovery takes
time, I try to be gentle with myself,
to not compare where I’m at with
where I was. Sometimes, I’m successful. 




I don’t believe in fate or that some bearded,
old, white man in the sky has a plan for me. 
I’m not rolling along on a predetermined
path, every decision already made, every 
outcome already known. So when he said
he was meant to meet me, I didn’t 
respond – this wasn’t destiny, it was
happenstance. Maybe that’s why it’s hard
to let him go, I haven’t yet chosen to do
so, I’m still pretending there’s something
more between us. 



Chasing Time

It was 4:30am when it started, the searing
pain of a hot fist punching into my back.
At 6:30am I was in the ER. The doctor
listened to my chest, felt my back, ordered
meds. When he discharged me 4 hours later
I said, My back is still spasming. I’m still in pain.
His baby blues looked sympathetic as he said,
You’ll have to manage, I can do nothing more, and
metaphorically patted me on my head, sent
me away. I changed my flight, left early, cried
the whole way, Ubered straight to the ER.
I told the (new) doctor the story, showed her
the discharge paperwork. She snorted. He gave you
half a dose, no wonder you’re still in pain. 5 minutes
later the IV was in, the drugs pushed into my
veins. She checked 30 minutes later and caught
me wincing. She topped me off before sending
me home with instructions to stay in bed
the next day. 15 hours after it began, I was
finally pain-free, the search for relief finally



From Here to There

If you could change one thing, what would it be?
Every Friday morning at our staff meeting
my boss asks our team a question. Some
are lighthearted: what’s your favorite dessert?
Some are serious: what are you most proud
of? But this question feels too heavy
for this group of people I hardly know. 
Office morale has always seemed like
an oxymoron to me – I’m not a fan
of happy hours with coworkers or being
friends with those who work for me. Yet
now it’s my turn and I have to think
of an answer that isn’t too somber
or morose but isn’t too silly. How 
to answer this question when every 
decision brought me to where I am, even
the terrible ones that wrecked me. How
do I choose a moment that would cause
a butterfly effect, shifting my world, 
bringing me to a place where I might 
not be sitting at this conference table, 
might not be carrying a work phone
and answering emails on weekends, might
not be strutting in stilettos, might instead
be happy. 



Courtney LeBlanc

Courtney LeBlanc is the author of the full length collections “Exquisite Bloody, Beating Heart” (Riot in Your Throat) and “Beautiful & Full of Monsters” (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press). She is a winner of the Jack McCarthy book prize and her next collection of poetry will be published by Write Bloody in spring 2023. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Riot in Your Throat, an independent poetry press. She loves nail polish, tattoos, and a soy latte each morning. Read her publications on her blog. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram

Kate Snow

Kate Snow is a painter and printmaker in Cleveland, OH. She began exhibiting in 2015, and her work has since been shown across the United States and in Germany. She been awarded residencies in Saratoga, WY, Dresden, Germany, and Key West, FL. In 2018 Kate was commissioned by the Cleveland International Film Festival to make the filmmaker awards, and in 2021 she received an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award from the state of Ohio.