An Angel Breathed Me
Staring into kitchen sinks, I think
of what it means to eat: fork’s one bite
trembling before my mouth, no more
laying flat as beaches but flowing
crests and troughs. The icy glass,
friend through months of cracking
teeth on what will not really fill,
hums disapproval from my counter.
Once home, my wife cooks oatmeal
and, full-bellied, we kayak the reservoir.
Sunsetting air overflows with croaks
of crickets and errant splashes of our oars.
Warmouths dimple water’s surface
as warblers chorus the widening ripples,
spring breezes thawing fears
from my throat,
lump that burned and begged me
not to swallow. Sickness was windless night
pressed against my ribs where I hid
my body’s secrets, but food pries open
flesh thrumming within. An angel
breathed me the will to swallow.
She might be mist warming my cheeks,
might be paddling next to me.
Many femme LGBT people have struggled with body image and eating disorders. For that reason, I’ve written much about the subject, although there is still stigma and shame attached. Often, queer literature rightfully focuses on very sad subjects, so I’m also committed to writing about uplifting aspects of gay life. Although I lost three years of my life to a haze of hunger and pain, my wife displayed unconditional love through it all, so this poem testifies to the healing power of love in the midst of mental illness. As Hannah Gadsby mentioned in her special Nanette, stories connect us. It’s hard to discuss my past, but if even one woman reads my story and feels less alone, I’m happy to have told it.
Amy Lauren is a lesbian poet who earned a Master of Music from Mississippi College. She authored the chapbooks Prodigal (Bottlecap Press) and God With Us (Headmistress Press), and lives in Florida with her wife. Read more of her work at www.amylaurenwrites.com.