Emily Louise

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POETRY

Manna

I was sixteen, over-medicated,
too stoned to remember

what it was I said that morning
that my father took offense to,

probably something like:
It helps with my appetite

and you’re the one who said
I looked too skinny. Did you not?

This was the spring, my junior year.
I’d spent the winter in the adolescent

anorexic psychiatric unit
where this girl had slipped a Ziploc

of multicolored cotton thread
in my assigned slot

of the corrugated mailbox
with a folded note:

Here is all my extra string
because you love to make those

bracelets. Jesus loves your vibrant soul
and so do I. Your friend, Elizabeth.

Although I failed to recognize
Your handwriting till much later.

Just as I failed to see Your hand
that springtime morning, swap

the blue ceramic plates stacked
on the table with an open box

of Thomas English muffins
for my dad, in his exhaustion,

to fling, like little frisbees,
one by one, in my direction.


At the Pharmacy

Oh God, redirect
my superficial arteries
to circumvent my pelvis

and instead
offload my blood
of lead and Ritalin

into the Sea
of Galilee to be dammed
up, collected

in the interlocking ponds
along the bank
and left to vaporize.

Come time to harvest,
encapsulate the residue
in little glycerin capsules

and write me a controlled
prescription for it, Oh God.
Be my crooked pharmacist.

Be my refill, authorized
too soon. Or be
the last remaining

value-pack of DayQuil
that I reach for
at the same time as the lady

in the pink mask
in the wheelchair
with the smile

and the courtesy to wait
until I’m turned
before she puts

the bottle back
and takes the Purell
from her purse.


Days of Noah

I strapped two bungee cords across the lid
of a pot of chicken soup that would not fit

inside the fridge and carried it—still warm—
across the black-ice-laminated porch

and set it on the Adirondack chair, the seat
of which was tilted, inclined inwardly,

so that for an awful moment I just watched
the full pot sliding, spinach decoupaged

onto the inside of the fogged-up lid.
The contents sloshing hot and turbulent

inside the vessel, unsettled
by the lunar pull, by the volume of itself

and by my arrogance: My actually believing
I could keep it from those prying, thieving

raccoon fingers with my industrial elastic,
an underestimation of their motor skills so tragic

that You intercepted—purely out of pity—
and brought my runaway container to an easy

stop against the faux-wood back slats
of the outdoor chair that absolutely should have

overturned. If what I wrought depended
on what I deserved and not the blood and water

that You scrubbed into the fatty ridges of
my coarsely-salted black cast-iron heart,

I would have been a corkscrew noodle
in a pool of sixty quarts worth

of my own stock. Lord, I would have been
a broken wishbone lodged

beneath a raccoon’s claw were it not for
Your clutch time intervention,

it would be my thighs and haunches,
hormone-heavy, marinating

in that stock pot on that chair
right there. I’d be something like that

instead of standing here, de-feathered but intact.
My fibers taut, my oven mitts mismatched.


Emily Louise is a fiery new Christian convert with an MFA in Creative Writing. She enjoys writing poems about writing poems and currently has about twelve gray hairs. She spends her free time wondering who put them there and strongly suspects it was you. Yes, you. 


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Photo Credit: “Spirits in fog” by Jim Surkamp, Flickr.com.

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