She needs to eat. She needs
to keep something warm in
her stomach. I reheat rice on the stove,
some cabbage and smoked salmon
and bring it to her in bed.
Like a widow, she chews the end
of a bone already buried. Ignores
the plate. I make her sit up anyways
adjust just before she spits
her last meal into my hands. Warm,
half-digested ghost.

Downstairs in the kitchen
I’ll eat from this plate, the white grains
cold and dead, pinched in my fingers’
tight grip, raised to a mouth
emptied—already open.
And I’ll try to—no, I will,
I’ll keep it down.

Copyright © 2020 by Charleen McClure. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 1, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.