That empty goldfish bowl.
That abandoned microcosm.
Those tiny smudges where I once pressed my nose.
That clinking of coins. That magic claw and purple bear.
Those chubby hands clenched, diving,
crashing every time.
That holiday. Those jarring shouts.
Those fragments of glass in a fortress of untouched green beans.
That cellophane prize. Those "cancer sticks."
That long way home. That breathy exchange.
Those freshly flowered panties that littered the floor.
That honest mirror and that lying smile.
That sallow surface of skin.
Those colorful candies, bitter and smooth.
That just one,
Then that one more.
That ecstasy of stupor.
That porcelain crown.
That hole in a bucket that never fills.
That hollow place,
Dark and damp,
Where innocence once slept.
That shallow goldfish grave
That I swore, if I tried,
I could fit into,
That in that moment I was small enough.


At night,
I am a fish.
Gutted, eyes wide open,
I ponder the popcorn ceiling
Searching for shapes and faces of presidents.
I lie naked,
Nipples perked by biting, acrid air.
Gas mask breathing.
Chicken skin.
Eyeballs swollen and overexposed,
I wait for the cousin of death,
probing silently my scabby hook
and my clammy existence.


When you left,
I lost weight
Only from my shoulders.
I ate tandoori chicken out of a Pyrex bowl
Until my skin turned golden brown,
And no one asked,
"like Casinos or 7-11's?"

Your mom called, and I told her,
Irregardless is to a word
as your son is to my boyfriend."

I held a baby
And a conversation today
And didn't feel guilty about either.
I watched that Sarah McLachlan commercial,
And had the CIA wire her money from your trust fund,
For dog food and better background music.

When you left,
Loneliness buzzed dully in my ear,
Like a sick mosquito.
I sat,
An island,
In a vast, black futon,
But I asked a beetle on my carpet
How he felt about Israel.
He said, "huh?"
And I felt like you were there again.

MARY SPOONER is a junior at the University of Southern Mississippi and a native of Jackson, Mississippi. She enjoys writing poetry and fiction, and she is graduating in 2016 with a B.A. in English. She is the winner of the 2015 Product Poetry Prize for her poem "Bildungsroman."