Bring me your pain, love. Spread it out like fine rugs, silk sashes, warm eggs, cinnamon and cloves in burlap sacks. Show me the detail, the intricate embroidery on the collar, tiny shell buttons, the hem stitched the way you were taught, pricking just a thread, almost invisible. Unclasp it like jewels, the gold still hot from your body. Empty your basket of figs. Spill your wine. That hard nugget of pain, I would suck it, cradling it on my tongue like the slick seed of pomegranate. I would lift it tenderly, as a great animal might carry a small one in the private cave of the mouth.
Reprinted from Mules of Love by Ellen Bass, with the permission of BOA Editions, Ltd. Copyright © 2002 by Ellen Bass. All rights reserved.
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold
Copyright © 1962 by William Carlos Williams. Used with permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved. No part of this poem may be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the publisher.
the first time you feed yourself
a hearty word like
it will taste unconvincing and wrong.
still coats your palate.
until your belly is swollen.
until you are stuffed and confident.
until you can't stomach
anything that doesn't feed you.
Copyright © 2018 by Roscoe Burnems. This poem originally appeared in Scene & Heard, January 2018. Used with permission of the author.