Meg Freitag | 2 POEMS

Still Life with Grocery Store Sushi

 

I tried once to die

By apple seed. And later

I tried to die

By mousetrap. And later:

Death by Cinnamon Toast Crunch,

Death by Dance Dance

Revolution, death

By falling asleep in the bathtub

When no one was home.

One time I thought

I wanted to die

But gave myself a haircut

Instead, and afterwards

Felt okay. Rumor has it

I didn’t even want to be born.

I lived ten months

In the womb, content

A suckling. Content now to eat

Prepackaged sushi alone

In my car in the grocery store

Parking lot. But I don’t think

I ever truly wanted death.

Not like you did, so much

You died twice. The first time

You came back, like an artichoke

Or a cartoon cat, wiping

Foam from the corners

Of your mouth, propped

Whitely up on pillows. It’s been a long

Life, already. Long and beautiful

And terrible and strange, like a worm

That lives along the ocean floor.

We are all as blind as that.

We are all as ugly.

But still sometimes we get

To thinking about beauty

As something we deserve simply

By virtue of waking up

Every day and not murdering

Someone. I am rootless

Now as a pair of sheep

In my long adulthood. I write

Thank you notes, I lug my trashcans

Back up onto the curb

Every Friday night. The second time

You got it right.

It still baffles me. I got so used to you

Being the kind of person

Who never completely dies.

And then, one day, you just did.

Red Milk

 

Lately I’ve been waking up

To a horse in my front yard.

Is it a coincidence

The way I love

Has also often been likened

To a horse? They say it has

Two black eyes that swallow everything

They lay upon, like cloaks. A sweet

Tooth for days. They say

The sky is always

Reflecting on its flanks. The kind

Of mane that’s prone to give

A dewy little shimmy. I realize

I could probably live

For years, if only I could cut

Its throat and hang

It upside down from a tree, let

The blood collect in a tin bucket, salt

And dry the flesh the right way.

Even my dog could live. It’s true

That one can water a garden

With horse blood, in the instance

That all the wells dry up

In an apocalyptic event. I could never

Bring myself to do any of this, though.

I’m too sentimental. Today

I sat on the café’s sunny patio, drinking

Champagne and sweating

Through my silk

Blouse, the hair on the top

Of my head hot

As metal, and I cried

Over a picture my father had posted

On Facebook: my childhood

Home, up to its windows

In snow so clean it literally

Glowed. I am counting down

The days until baseball season.

All the families sitting

Together on benches, consumed

For a few hours with a single

Identical hope, faces streaked

In red or blue paint. I keep

My pockets full of starlight

Mints, for this new beast

That tramples my flowerbeds.

Just the sheer size

Of it! The glisten! It gives

Me a hope I haven’t felt

In years. I wish I could

Go back there sometimes, back

To the easy place where I tossed

A Frisbee to a dog and sang

Songs about the lawn chairs

Beneath a small, benevolent sky. Back

To where the Earth wasn’t

Dying. It’s not that I don’t still feel

Joy. I do. Sometimes I feel so much of it

At once it’s like choking backwards

On a red velvet cupcake.


MEG FREITAG was born in Maine. She has an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a James A. Michener Fellow and finalist for the 2015 Keene Prize for Literature. Her first book, Edith, was selected by Dorianne Laux as winner of the 2016 BOAAT Book Prize and was published by BOAAT Press in Fall of 2017. Her poems can be found in Tin House, Boston Review, Indiana Review, Black Warrior Review, and elsewhere.