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An Anorexic to the Dead Mother Who Made Writing Bible Verses an Act of Self-Loathing

“I puked my prayers / sweated in tangled sheets”

Published onOct 07, 2020
An Anorexic to the Dead Mother Who Made Writing Bible Verses an Act of Self-Loathing

All liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with
fire and brimstone, which is the second death.  Rev. 21:8


I puked my prayers
sweated in tangled sheets,
Shadrach & Meschach’s sister
alone in my white bed
unafraid to burn, unafraid

of bones consumed by fire
asking only to be free 
of the saints 
whose cardamom syllables 
stained your vampire’s
teeth, to be free of you. 

Five hundred times 
I penned my sin 
on wide-lined paper
before dinner, wrote 
my death over and again, 
let the e and a
loop and slip 
like stones skipped
across the lake, 
let the rise and fall
of the hard th swallow
the lump in my throat.

I pinned my hungers 
in folds of flesh too thin 
to bite, fire and brimstone 
my obloquy, the wages 
of my wishes shipwrecked 
on some Canaan’s shore, 
a promised land 
of milk and honey 
you said I’d never see.  

I tasted the fat on your fork
tongued the cold curd
of self-denial on bare 
plates, cut my flesh 
100 times unclean, 
erasing you
by erasing me. 

Janet Reed is the author of Blue Exhaust (FLP, 2019), and a multi-year Pushcart Prize and Best of the Web nominee.  Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Sow’s Ear Review, Emry’s, Tipton Poetry Journal, and others. She began writing knock-off Nancy Drew stories on wide-lined notebook paper at age 11, taught writing and literature in a community college until retirement and is currently enrolled in an MFA program in Creative Writing at University of Missouri-Kansas City.

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