Dear Carole, For hours, it’s been burning
a hole in my gut, the shame
of never saying thank you
twelve years ago for that fucking pizza
you bought with SSI back pay.
It tasted so good: the grease,
the sweet of the tomato sauce,
the salt from the olives prickling
my tongue – I could actually taste it.
They don’t say on those Cymbalta commercials
depression takes away taste.
Sleep, yeah, sex drive, focus, but not taste.
I never told you
how for those months, alone
in my one-bedroom apartment I tried
to eat just about anything,
but it was all so thick and waxen . . .
one night, ravenous and wretched
I tried to eat an entire loaf of bread.
Cross-legged on the kitchen floor
the light from the street lamp cast ghastly
shadows against the apartment blinds
while I took slice after slice
of Wonder Bread from the Hostess overstock
warehouse on Weldon Street and bit
into each one wanting desperately
for the next to taste
like the smell of patchouli
in your room, like rain water,
like mud-stained carpet, like midnights
on the front porch,
like lying to our mothers and never getting caught.
Slice after slice – mutilated, the impression
of my teeth embossed on each one’s cottony
flesh – lay scattered
on the linoleum. I couldn’t bring myself
to swallow even the smallest
bite. Just kept spitting
slobbery hunks onto my naked lap,
into my tangled hair, until
I laid down, the floor clammy and smooth
like the palms of your hands.
Sarah A. Chavez, a mestiza born and raised in the California Central Valley, is the author of the chapbook, All Day, Talking published by Dancing Girl Press (2014). She holds a PhD in English with a focus in poetry and Ethnic Studies from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in Luna Luna Magazine, So to Speak: Feminist Journal of Language and Art, among others. Her manuscript, This, Like So Much, was an Honorable Mention for the 2013 Quercus Review Press Poetry Book Contest. A selection from her chapbook manuscript All Day, Talking won the Susan Atefat Peckham Fellowship in 2013. She is a proud member of the Macondo Writers Workshop.
Jennifer Jackson Berry is the author of the chapbooks When I Was a Girl (Sundress Publications) and Nothing But Candy (Liquid Paper Press). Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Booth, The Emerson Review, Harpur Palate, Moon City Review, Stirring, and Whiskey Island, among others. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.