Enough for Three
Ma Ma brews
turnip and savory
onion for my sniffles.
My clay clammy
hands accept the
broad porcelain soup spoon
and steaming bowl.
TV dinners are a specialoccasion, with baby sisterwatching Scooby Doo
chortling with glee.
Two bed, one bath
is big enough for three--
an entire worldcarpeted in nondescript beige.
Winter drinks warm barley tea at dinner,
steaming red bean soup for dessert,
the bloom of heat in our bellies.
Summer reserves grass jelly,
In her kitchen haven
center of our universe
we roll out glutinous rice flour.
soft, pliant, and sticky
through peanut powder
or sweet, black sesame dust.
Mother cooks meals / pulls me aside to whisper about drug habits / night before, I use Father’s laptop / you kiss me but never fuck me / pressure, tight as a thousand leagues under sea, seeps out of my lungs / Father grows a beard / food poisoning from Mother’s chicken / Brother says goodbye / calls only when asking for a favor or when sentimentality hits his chest / Porn pulled up on Father’s computer / Fake orgasms form lies in the blonde’s eyes / my hair is sweaty and tangles, I forget where my brush lies / my virginity disappears / you leave me crying in a snowy field / cunts go untouched for several months / burials three weeks before Christmas / ice hardens beneath my car / monthly bleeds, I think about the girl in the porn / mother sets down food, encourages me to eat / red eyes betraying my high / accusations over milk and cookies / words seep out my knowledge of affairs in dark rooms / Father, forgive me / Christian parents forming hand pyramids over betrayed bed chambers / the neglected child still cries herself to sleep inside mother’s chest / am I not pretty anymore / sunken cheekbones, we share the responsibility / you call me slut / my breasts do not feel like my own / throw-up sits in porcelain bowls / flushing into atonement, emptiness into holiness, my stomach growls / I don’t cry when I watch porn anymore / I can’t feel my cunt anymore / Father, your apology stripped you of your beard / Brother, where are you?
A rebellion of fullness
Isa and Amelia had been taught to take breakfast seriously. In childhood the sisters routinely savored moments of anticipation in the process of preparing substance: a blade poised to slice into the thick forest-green skin of an avocado. Sliding one side of dense flesh away from it’s snug casing of the seed, they learned to anticipate, with their ears, that a clean pop! indicated a flawless avocado, without even a speckle of brown.
Isa had always thought the seed, the swell, looked heavy like a moon in her palms. A precisely balanced and wholesome entity, the ephemeral fruit.
One winter in their early twenties, the girls moved into a small house outside the city together. Mornings were dedicated to a careful routine, a ritual of rising to greet the world. The first to wake would grind coffee beans, deliberately fill the french press with boiling water, and tip a spoonful of oil into a hot pan.
When cracked deliberately, the orb of the egg yolk shimmied gently and did not burst. Bread toasting and freshly shredded coffee beans dwelling in a bath of hot water mingled in the air, slipping through the cracks in the doors and coaxing the later sleeper from bed. It was important to make an effort in the timing of breakfast, a way of resting both feet in this world after departing into sleep. The avocado was the first matter of fate on most days, and they opened it together. They listened for the texture of the pop.
In the winter the girls’ bodies had become a bit fuller. Thighs and bellies made slightly rounder hills, brimming in the transition from child to woman. Isa didn’t take much notice, and had a resilience to the messages of culture. Amelia had always carried herself with an athletic ease, a physical strength tangible to the observer’s eye. She grew anxious and guilty as summer approached, researching reasons for the change in her body. She began to think of foods differently, in a complex and ever-evolving info-cluster of fresh research, tips and foods to avoid.
She began tracking the intake of food according to a point system, with higher fat and calorie foods costing more points than lower-calorie foods. Bread and fried eggs were replaced by mixed greens and egg-white omelettes, yolks broken carelessly into a discard bowl. Amelia bought a food scale, and Isa would walk into the kitchen to find her plucking almonds from a bag one by one. Sprinkling the allotted acceptable portion of fat -five almonds- atop her salad, she opened an avocado and carved out two clean slices. Isa asked Amelia how many points a full avocado cost. “Almost all of the points I have in a day,” she responded, eyes glassy, sliding the majority of an avocado into the refrigerator.
Almost-full avocados browning on glass shelves, seeds rising in the dark as the sisters had risen together in utero. In the freezer, some of the “many treats and indulgences” promised by the diet plan provider: 100-calorie chocolate popsicles, containing almost a hundred ingredients and three artificial sugars.
Amelia measured, tallied, slimmed. The program achieved its promise in shrinking her body, but her intake of sodium and sugar increased, and the fullness she felt was synthetic, too calculated, measured to death. Guilt lingered in the most unlikely places- peanut butter, bananas and walnuts became indulgences on par with chocolate cake. The rules in the kitchen began to mirror the complexes of the outside world. As long as Amelia measured everything accurately, science would do it’s work to diminish her. Then she would occupy an acceptable amount of space with her body.
Isa missed the simple and sacred routine of preparing wholesome meals in the morning. Finding brown avocados in the sterile light of the refrigerator seemed unholy. She wished that she and Amelia could live in a place where tradition created the rules of meal preparation. It was easy for her to see through the papery facade of health that dictated modern diet culture, but she didn’t blame her sister for getting lost in a tangle of messages tailored to take advantage of her emotions, hopes and fears. Whether someone who hated women was behind the messages, which all boiled down to “overthink” and “shrink,” she did not know.
When winter approached again, Isa and Amelia attended a gathering of women. Three large tables held platters abundant with fall harvest- roasted beets, carrots and sweet potatoes, drizzled with red wine and topped with toasted walnuts. Hot bread topped with full garlic cloves steamed as women pulled pieces apart with their fingers. Mulled wine simmered in a pot, clove and anise rising in thick spirals to warm the air. Most of the women were much older than Isa, and their energies mingled in the room to birth a palpable tone of rebellion- a rebellion of fullness.
Looking around the room full with women, Isa could see how the modern world grew to fear those women who remained full, who knew substance as the root of the heavy, earth-bound power. These women moved, each one with a gravity formidable as the moon, fabric cascading over the soft edges of their bodies, their eyes glittering with a warmth that rose like steam from full bellies, through the chest, the heart, the throat, and into the room, and into one another.