her child would never know the damp of hunger in his bones

illustration of a mother and sun as silhouettes, eating burgers and fries with blue waves in the background
Art by Kristina Closs

I Tell My Mother About My Depression

by Eric Tran

She is ashamed of my seasickness,
her son, bled down from boat people.

We are kidding, of course: between waves
and prayers to Mercy, she swore

her child would never know
the damp of hunger in his bones.

She wanted him fat like clay
and just as soft. In college, I lost

ten pounds of myself and half
the words she sang to me as a baby.

The aunties cooed my new frame
but she was silent, both of us famished

for the words we meant. I say 
I’m sad from sun to sun

and her response is a crisp
twenty for the quiet burger joint

we visited when I was young
and never talked, or didn’t need

words, our mouths and bellies
singing the same full rhythm.

from The Gutter Spread Guide to Prayer

I stocked my shelves for you

illustration of a skillet full of various colorful pantry and food items
Art by Kristina Closs

SKILLET

by Lilah Hegnauer

Rally, joy, here. Weep here.
I am not lettered. I ferry
an even raft across your

pantry shelves: jimberry, jamberry,
red beans and black. Lentils
and popcorn and everything

you lack. I could pace your
acres and come to nothing–
still. No roots, no vines, no

frame, no sill. Consigned to a
pointy-ribbed filly, I address
you thus: rally here. I stocked
my shelves for you.

from Pantry

let us never be rescued from this mess

This poem by Aimee Nezhukumatathil reminds me of all the time spent in the kitchen, across my life and especially this past year when it became even more centered as a daily space for energy and deliciousness and escape from everything else.

Illustration below by one of my dearest friends since we were in middle school, Kristina Closs, a talented artist who has graciously agreed to illustrate some of my posts this month! You can see more of her beautiful work at @kristinapaints on Instagram or at WoodPigeon, her Etsy store.

“Baked Goods”

Flour on the floor makes my sandals 
slip and I tumble into your arms. 

Too hot to bake this morning but
blueberries begged me to fold them

into moist muffins. Sticks of rhubarb 
plotted a whole pie. The windows

are blown open and a thickfruit tang
sneaks through the wire screen

and into the home of the scowly lady
who lives next door. Yesterday, a man 

in the city was rescued from his apartment
which was filled with a thousand rats. 

Something about being angry because
his pet python refused to eat. He let the bloom 

of fur rise, rise over the little gnarly blue rug, 
over the coffee table, the kitchen countertops

and pip through each cabinet, snip
at the stumpy bags of sugar,

the cylinders of salt. Our kitchen is a riot
of pots, wooden spoons, melted butter. 

So be it. Maybe all this baking will quiet
the angry voices next door, if only

for a brief whiff. I want our summers

to always be like this—a kitchen wrecked
with love, a table overflowing with baked goods
warming the already warm air. After all the pots

are stacked, the goodies cooled, and all the counters
wiped clean—let us never be rescued from this mess. 

_

From Lucky Fish