‘Check-up’ & ‘Spoon Theory’ by Alicia Cole



My husband has been to the doctor,
his gray hair fuzzy and curling
out from his cap. He went gray early,
I think, though this is conjecture,
as I’ve only been with him for a year
and a half and I seldom ask questions
externally. Imagine me, learning
him from silence. Imagine me, insane
over coffee. My coming-off-meds
exploratory is a little jarring right now,
the dog stretching and flopping her ears
more interesting than my brain’s rewiring.
Yes, I’m off one psych med successfully;
now, off another like a yo-yo, especially
in the mornings. But my husband
has been to the doctor. And I
am not jealous of him, for I seldom
get jealous of the necessary things,
(unlike poetry, which makes me
rend my fists into knots and scream
bird-like, why not me, why not me–
but this also is necessary, and I would
not breathe–is that so–if I was not writing,
but I would breathe–that is so–if I was
not writing, though not really, no. The light
would dawn in the morning, though maybe
not for you, not for me) and I watch him place
his work things into his backpack and head out
once again into the day, boisterous
as a teenager, which is how he always
is. Pre-diabetes signs are reversing.
He will continue to make me dinner
while I exhaust everything I am
on a video game, the only place
I can concentrate. My brain
feels like it’s voiding excess water.
The day is like a cathedral
and I am standing in it weeping.
I would like to walk on the side
of the Seine and see Notre Dame
and look at the light’s explosions,
always from the outside. It’s too close,
the center of the bomb inside
of my stomach, the way only these
shorts are now fitting after we’ve had
another pregnancy drill. I swear life
is fooling me, but I’m always paranoid
and don’t want to go in the hospital,
so what can I do anyway
but look at the light?

Spoon Theory

There is life, so meaningful, meaningful
as it is, ever so meaningful in its
unmeaningfulness. There are men
brushing their hair in the mirror, their limited
lengths of hair. They brush and we forget,
save for their hair clogging the drain,
and try to forget the hair, and try desperately
to forget. Can we just show them the mirror
and hope they’ll thunder at it,
revealing the cracked arrow of their hands
when they beat against it wildly?

If I look at the mirror, it is something different,
the wild difference, the different
wildness. My husband’s hands are small
and neat, splotched with age
and an unending need for sun. I too
have a need for sun and the rancid run
of a clean day. See, clean is no longer
a clean topic.

I would like to make a child and look
at both the clogged drain and the sun
with him. Will we not, some of us,
raise children to these purposes?

I take them all out of the drawer, spoons,
lay them on the table. Or this
is what I tell you. Really, I am lying.
As usual. They remain in the drawer,
not dirty on the overly dirty table
that I never wash unless I’m making
jewelry. And are you dirty?
And are you well? And would you like
a necklace? I don’t stock them
for the well.

I would like to raise a child
who can make well jewelry for the unwell
and unwell jewelry for the well,
so they too will know.
Will we not, some of us,
raise children to such purposes?

Everything is so meaningful,
the meaningful meaningfulness,
and life is so ill. Save for the crack
of the hair at the window, the slick
hair that comes out of heaven
and wraps us all up. I would like
to take a hammer to the window again.
But you know I told my husband it broke.

Do you understand? And do you not understand?
I am constantly lying. I will never make a child.
Or some angel will come out of heaven
and hand him to me and I will laugh. Is it joy?
Or is it terror? Why, don’t you read? Don’t
you know the poet I’m referring to? He also
has left hair in the drain, but I am not so loathe
pulling it out. Where are the grown men
in the terror of this world, and why
are they laughing?

Alicia Cole is a writer and artist in Huntsville, AL. She’s the Editor of Priestess & Hierophant Press and the Interviews Editor of Black Fox Literary Magazine. She has appeared in TAB: The Journal of Poetry and Poetics, Atlas and Alice, and concis, among other publications. Her work has been a finalist for Best of the Net and she won Honorable Mention in Hermeneutic Chaos’ Jane Lumley Prize for Emerging Writers.