Room | by Erin Emily Ann Vance 

after Anne Sexton

Hunger
as blank as a burnt book
capsizes me.
Each hour the nurse
takes my breasts
and microwaves them in time for tea
in the break room.

My mother looks on with sunken cheeks
and bites at edges of her fingernails.
I stare at the nurse with her missing eyelashes.
Did you pull them out, hair by hair?

Bread is sinister,
I spit into the sink.
Breadcrumbs mingle with my dead skin
in the bed sheets that should be burnt
I spit into the sink.
Bread
is the sludge thickening around the base of my spine

I spit into the sink.

My mother looks on with sunken cheeks
and bites at edges of her fingernails
I stare at the nurse with the missing eyebrows.
Did you pluck them out, follicle by follicle?

Milk is yellow and clumpy,
like my hair wasted in the washbasin
I am no churchyard
but my fingers reach like skeleton keys
to the crypts, I spit in the sink.
Never again will milk dribble from my chin
Or leak from my breast
Seep from the corner of the cat’s eye.
Never again will the moon be the color of old milk
on a dark September morning
I spit into the sink.

I beg mother to stop chewing at her fingers.

 


 

Erin Emily Ann Vance’s work has appeared in numerous publications, including cV2 and filling station. Erin was a 2017 recipient of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts Young Artist Prize and a 2018 Finalist for the Alberta Magazine Awards in Fiction. She is a graduate student in literature and creative writing.