Poetry & Words, Theology

When I was a girl, the grocery stores started to run out of food.

When I was a girl, the grocery stores started to run out of food.

They didn’t tell you that, because it was a corner of the world you’re not supposed to understand, and they don’t tell you how to become a writer, either. Everyone is supposed to become a reader — they tell you that in school — but it remains a mystery how some readers are able to metamorphose into writers.

After all, the writer concerns himself with not just the reason why civilizations fall, but also the American supermarket, the meaning in dappled bananas on the counter at sunrise, the effervescence of this present moment, and using words incorrectly.

No one teaches you how to be writer, except maybe poets and historians.

The writer looks for meaning, then sorts it in into a block of serif text, block-justified. The writer grabs undulating symbolism, and stacks it into neat columns. The writer dreams of transforming everyday objects into extraordinary prose, but more often reduces the extraordinary to ordinary words.

My toddler is outside filling his pockets with clovertops, and I’m inside pressing the leaves and stems into words. If I stack enough of these letters sideways, on edge, maybe I’ll forage something worth saving.

When I was a girl, the grocery stores started to run out of food. The shelves grew gap-toothed, their mouths gaping wider and wider as they grew more hollow. People became afraid: of hunger, of war, but mostly of each other.

You were afraid of each other in 2020, but now you mostly settle for calling each other names.

Your dinars don’t need extra zeroes.

You douse your dandelions in poison.

You throw away your leftovers.

All that is for places like Venezuela or Yugoslavia, you tell me, and this is America.

My toddler is outside filling his pockets with clovertops, and I’m inside pressing these words into a history which, kyrie eleison, might not repeat itself.

But it might.

I’ve washed myself with bars of soap which smelled sour, and seen yellow rain fall from the sky.

You tell me rising costs are a result of greed. Yes, I say, but not the kind you think.

You tell me it’s a shortage in the supply chain. Yes, I say, but the one you think.

Maybe they don’t tell you how to become a writer, because it’s an incurable disease. Maybe they don’t tell you how to become a writer, because there’s no way out of it except through. I glean the words that fall behind these endless stacks of centuries.

My toddler is outside, filling his pockets with clovertops.

I have pockets full of words, and it will take me a lifetime, or maybe two, to sort them all.

1 thought on “When I was a girl, the grocery stores started to run out of food.”

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