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A poem by Cait Powell

Carrots with long green stems in a bowl on a table

Today I went to the kitchen and I peeled a carrot with a fork. Another summer passes in pieces.

Yesterday I lost three more words and they weren’t the ones I’d finished with. By the time they return, I won’t remember what I needed them for. My mind is a road the county doesn’t pave anymore. I learn to drive around the holes. 

Last week I filled a grocery bag with phrases and set it on the roof of my car. When I pulled away I lost it, like vegetables fallen from a truck, and now I skulk in the kitchens of others, eating the excess that spills from their plates when they speak. I am working with half as many letters as I had. Everything I whisper must count. 

This is what I’m trying to tell you. That each impossible day is a poem I wanted to read to you, that each poem is hazier than the one before it. That I have swept each corner of this small apartment and still I can’t find the carrot I dropped when I peeled it, the fork I think I imagined. I sleep past three and don’t remember how to say hunger, how to say hollow, how to say help. Ask me why I act like I don’t want to live and I’ll shove your hand down my shirt. I’ll spit you out into a Kleenex and I’ll hand it back to you as though it’s an answer. As though being on my knees is not its own desperate alphabet. Hours collapse. I go by the ATM every morning to withdraw some semblance of language and find, each time, that my card is declined. Someone asks me how I’m doing and I’m forced to pay them with a check. Don’t cash it, I say. It’ll bounce.

Cait Powell is a queer poet from the San Francisco Bay Area. She holds an MA in Interdisciplinary Computer Science from Mills College, a BA in English from Scripps College, and her recent work has appeared in After the Pause, Pidgeonholes, and Pretty Owl Poetry, among others. You can find her on Twitter at @cait_for_short.

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