Forgive me, Donna Reed, for I have Sinned

It has been three weeks since I last vacuumed the carpet.
Don't even ask about the windows. My begonias
died in a January frost---their skeletons still droop
in a pot by the front door. Pathetic, I know.
Let me tell you about the pile of junk mail mildewing
on the porch, the heap of laundry in the closet,
coffee cups and cereal bowls multiplying in the sink.
There were things in the fridge I could no longer identify,
so I threw them out still tucked up in their Tupperware.
I ate canned soup and a sleeve of saltines every night
for dinner, I did not finish my milk. I turned out the lights
and pretended not to be home so no one could see
the state of my end tables, so no one would notice
that I had not taken off my pajamas all weekend.


The calyx grips the thin skin with its five-petaled
fist, ghost of the flower that began it all.
Inside, the bundles of fibers and the split grin
of seeds like milk teeth, so small
my tongue can't feel them to spit and I swallow.
As a girl I believed every seed
I swallowed would grow, that my stomach
would swell with melons, a cherry tree
sprout from the top of my head.
I made careful piles of pits at the edge
of my plate. I made sure I stayed empty.
I sang at the top of my lungs how you were lost
and gone forever. I forget--
is fruit the ovary or the womb?

CHRISTINA ROTHENBECK is the author of the chapbooks Girls in Art and Erasing Innocence, both from dancing girl press. Her poems have appeared in Bone Bouquet, Sugar House Review, and Reunion: The Dallas Review, among other places.