The Southern woman in me brings food to misfortune –
potato casserole crusted with corn flakes,
pound cake soaked in sugar and rum –
an apology for not taking the blow of fate myself.
I bring a chicken, herbed and brined,
to my friend who will never be pregnant,
the walls of her uterus scarred from cysts removed.
Not an inch remains for the zygote to attach.
Her child is homeless at conception,
no place to root himself, to draw blood.
I imagine that impossibly small life
passing unnoticed into some invisible place,
and I think of my grandmother, shrunken and sedate
in my grandfather’s recliner,
holding his name in her clenched fist,
denying food, water, baths, letting her nails grow
around the letters, through the sounds of it.
She floats loose from the earth,
living in a house of scars,
of hats, hairbrushes, pictures, pills,
the shrill and echo of injuries,
and no place to land, to attach, to draw breath and blood.
She starves in a womb that will not have her.
If I could cook, I would feed my grief
thick marbled steaks, pan seared and pepper crusted,
until I could crowd out that thing,
that hunger that scrapes at my insides.
I would feed my friend
delicate pastries and thick country soups
until the wounds in her belly melted like butter,
until the curries and chutneys fed the child without the aid of umbilicus.
If I could, I would feed my grandmother’s grief roasted lamb and potatoes
until it was strong enough to get up and walk around,
until it turned from a ghost into a man,
put on his hat, and shut the door behind him.
Original header artwork by Grace Hawk.