I will feed it but I won’t cook for it. Not yet; not until it howls. And then....Then I will bake it a pie.
Each week a group of Revlers meets in our Reflective Writing Group to read and discuss a poem, and then write to a prompt. This week, the poem was The Thing Is, by Ellen Bass, and our writing prompt was “write about something you can no longer stomach.”
I have no stomach for dating.
Love, maybe, but it had better come find me,
because I am sick of looking for it.
I hope it’s like a cat, and if I ignore it long enough its tail will swoosh
around my ankles, unbidden.
It will meow for its dinner,
and I will coolly open some food.
I will feed it but I won’t cook for it.
Not yet; not until it howls.
Then I will bake it a pie.
I love my sister who lost
her husband, and later gained
and lost seventy pounds.
Now, thirteen are back
during the pandemic.
She has been suicidal before,
the grey agony of a rock
trying to feel, standing on
the windowsill of the sixth
on 21st street. She shook
the bottle of pills before
she let me take them from her.
Now, I prove my love to my sister
daily, the violet grief
I house in my own body,
my ears ringing from it,
not even my own grief.
I have borrowed her sadness,
pushed in both of us to the bottom
of our hearts, all we had sorrow
for, our cells banging inside
When nausea was daily and minute by minute
my stomach clutched
and I reeled and wondered at the miracle that grief and shock and loss
could make me actually physically ill.
and even if I wanted to -- talk, convene, appeal
meet, make eye contact --
my stomach wouldn't let me
& I had to take care of it. First.
And again, thwack!
I was driving, and had been drinking, and we were screaming at each other.
The end of this long relationship had been coming for a long time.
(is it always that way?)
I was only going 20mph or so, up a slight hill, when suddenly
I heard the pop,
and then there was blood everywhere.
On my dress, on the steering wheel, on my hands.
He’d made a huge meaty fist, those hands I’d so loved, and punched me, twice.
I was finally done.
I am 12 years old, pre-pubescent still but so sure of my wisdom and maturity. I have to see my grandmother every week, and every week it fills me with dread.
Walking into her below grade apartment, a must clings to the walls that she can't scrape clean.
She is so often sick, and often she can't let me in. She calls to me from her bed---Precious - come give me a kiss.
How I detest the way she calls me "Pre-ciii-ousss."
She cooks up a scheme to further ensnare me. She uses her home health aide funds to hire me to help her. I go to the city office to get a special permit to work for her since I am underage. I will do dishes she says, she trusts me to not chip her good china. You help me any way she says, why not get paid for it? I think I will sweep her floors and fold her laundry. She teaches me to iron.
One day she says, I need you to help me wash. I can't reach my back.
She peels off her blouse, hands me a wet washcloth, turns her back to me. She needs me to unhook her bra.
I get nauseous from the sour smell under her breasts. Her yeasty back is pale and covered in a light sheen of sweat. I have no stomach for it and it haunts me for weeks.
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