my mother and I argue whether the burger is raw.
she was hospitalized from eating raw chicken— so she thinks.
she is sensitive because she’s a mother.
I had never seen her like that before. when she was in the hospital,
she was yellow, too— jaundice, like an old newspaper.
like a vintage ad— a pretty woman gone thin.
if there is a god, I want to know his intentions—
he poked and prodded, kneading each wrinkle— like playing with fire. I want to know why is it I can only see her as someone whispered.
at an impressionable age I watch my dad order medium rare
as if it were dangerous. from then on, I ate meat. with his back to me,
he says something about jazz— I nod my head and agree.
he’s not malicious or bitter— but it’s easier to be a silhouette than someone I love.
I look up to dimly-lit figures— it was with him I wrote my first poem,
and he liked the way I wrote tall buildings as something to scrape the sky.
on the shopping cart with my arms outstretched, my dad is the one to push me— my mother the one to fill it, to poke and to prod.
she would melt if I asked, yet she is the crone— someone yellow and sickly.
she lines her fingers with my hinges, swaying like an open door
for a daughter who seems to prefer the father for a mass of reasons;
because he’s more absent? because he’s more fun? because when mom comes home late,
when bound to a house dimly-lit, with bare corners what is she left to do but carry the aching
and battered silence— she’s got to croon us to sleep in the doorways and
do it again tomorrow. we’ll apologize together, but that comes later.
Bella Cosentino is a writer and illustrator from South Carolina. Her work has been published in the Rattle Young Poets Anthology and South Carolina Honors College’s Writing South Carolina and has been recognized by the Scholastic Writing Awards. She has self-published a collection of poetry, essays, and short stories that explore the sources of her inspiration and the unconscious impulses that present themselves in her writing. While between pieces, she can be found working as a waitress at her favorite restaurant, collaging her wall with photos, and kicking back with her dog.