Dr. Matthias Ripp CC
After Therapy, at Trader Joe’s
The crackers come in a blue box a blue seldom found
in nature. When was the last time I had
strawberries? I put them in my basket.
Making frozen orange chicken is easy even if I throw
most of it away I used to like it I will like it again.
Three things in the basket The receipt is embarrassingly small
it wouldn’t even make a decent bookmark.
Streetlights are on outside reflecting in the puddles
and the deluge of the storm drain.
A man in the parking lot has his hood up
his car won’t start tools scattered on the ground.
The howling of my hollow self against a damp paper bag
forced to watch a vehicle come apart in the rain.
I reach out to the time when I was a sexless being,
fingernails scraping the edges of my childhood–
shirt off and sunburned, slip-n-slide and baby soap
and grass stains and chunky shorts.
My mother watching, slowly marking the boundaries
of time and hips and ribcage drawing closer,
making claims, both joy and jaundice.
I am woman now, serene and straining backward,
loving my shape and sweetness (my strength
my severity) lamenting my stolen (sovereignty).
Why the reaching? I am with family,
mother somewhere otherwhere, sweating in a jacket
covering my too-sheer shirt (outlines, shapes).
My cousin takes off her daughter’s sweater, and she
takes off running again like seven-year olds do.
“I’m sorry,” my cousin apologizes. “It’s not modest,
but it’s just so hot.”
Wait, I want to say. My fingers twitch.
Give her time
Give her that time
The next thing
I wake up and eat on purpose,
put on clothes that fit me
and do my work like school taught
me to, making talk small
and manageable like breath mints.
I eat on purpose, complete tasks,
crawl into the life that formed
without my noticing
and wearing it like a starched sweater.
I come back, open a window,
eat on purpose, put on worn
clothes from when school was
teaching. It is warm, I am clean,
I have enough to do.
No one told me about the loneliness
of adulthood. I don’t know
where to put my hands.
Emma McCoy is a writer, the assistant editor of Whale Road Review, co-editor of Driftwood, and poetry reader for the Minison Project. She is the author of “In Case I Live Forever” (2022), is a two time nominee for the AWP Intro to Journals project, and has poems published in places like Flat Ink, Paddler Press, and Jupiter Review. Catch her on Twitter: @poetrybyemma
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.