Photo by Rosie Lopolito
Even after I had scraped / off the two-hour-old layer / of fluoride, bagels / tasted like artificial strawberries / and glue. Every six / months, a bagel / with a single, experimental / bite / ripped from its pasty side would end up in the / trash. I drank / caramel-colored tea / and apple juice / when I was sick in third grade. / My classmates released / butterflies at a picnic / on day two because / life moves on. / Bag lunches—consisting / of carrots / and celery / a sandwich with bread / whiter than my inner wrists / a cookie / sometimes / —linger / in the back of my mind, / despite them not / being particularly tasty. / I don’t miss / the Kraft singles or / Pepto-Bismol-pink / circles of deli ham.
Becoming a women meant eating like one:
That is, half of a grape Capri Sun;
That is, a bite of toast with measured butter;
That is, chapstick licked from cracked lips;
That is, finger food eaten with cutlery;
That is, whatever doesn’t stain teeth;
That is, a side salad, hold the dressing;
That is, an emetic called criticism;
That is, an empty Spider-Man lunchbox
too boyish for your curves
and yet you still miss it.
My dad’s lasagna is like a birthday cake. Made once a year
in a lunch-lady-style sheet pan meant for batter, the golden cheese
burbles and noodles ripple—cakes are not this active, but this beast
of sauce is alive, breathing. I miss the lasagna when I’m reminded of it,
& I’m not looking forward to the day I’m reminded of lasagna
and miss my dad instead.