Thursday, May 17, 2018

"Hungry" by Doris Ferleger

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Hungry” by Doris Ferleger, the winner of the 2018 Songs of Eretz Poetry Award Contest.  Her biography may be found here

Doris Ferleger

You can love someone, then come to a day when you're forced to think "it's him or me" think "me" and kill him. —Marie Howe

"Heart" Watercolor on Paper
By J. Artemus Gordon
The FED EX guy has taken away the unwieldy, unopened, almost
unliftable box, containing the 55” TV that would have been our lifeline 

to the “us” you kept longing for me to embrace, lifeline to your love 
of humanity in all its suffering and singing. I’ve kept my world small.

It’s my secret how full my mind is without a word from the outside.
I drink ginger tea from a floral cup. Pull the blanket, fleecy white, 

back in place upon waking, squeeze the creamy bleach into the sink, 
let it sit for hours, put my body in plank position—recall how each of us 

felt we were walking the plank. I eat an overripe banana sliced 
into sour cream, recall how my father used to down sour cream 

by the tablespoonful then place the spoon to my mouth saying, 
taste, taste, then smack his lips and sigh, so lucky to be alive. 

How you proffered the pinkest slice of filet from your plate, 
your hunger for my eyes, the comely shape of your shiny head, 

you reminded me so much of my father whom I loved beyond measure. 
Right now I am wearing my size 11 bling-covered black sandals 

last worn the day I first came to your house, that is, the first day we met, 
that is, the same day I invited myself to stay and we, newly young, fully-

clothed, pressed our passions into your deep couch, your body thick 
and ravenous, my body famished too. Our mouths wide open. Last we spoke, 

you were breaking up with me, reminding me of the time you first slept 
at my house and I left the next morning for a shiva service, 

a relative you didn’t know, dead at sixty, you said you felt bereft, left 
in my rambling house, all alone, perhaps you wandered in and out 

of the rooms imagining the years you were not in my life, 
and who can say how much pain can settle into the body. 

That day, it’s true I left our night to enter the day 
of mourning without you. And for you, that was an everlasting 
sign of my failure to embrace you in my mind. 
I dreamt last night you asked me to marry you

and my dead husband told me he was moving to Montgomery
as he was no longer attached to the house. And I’m mad-mad-mad, 

in the dream, blame him for my love of home, blame my-love-
of-home as the reason you left me. I will dine alone tonight 

on mango and coconut salmon at DaDa’s cafĂ©, sit in a rattan chair 
on the porch, recall when I drew on the blackboard table top inside, 

pink and yellow chalk flowers, hearts, your name, called you 
amidst the noise. Your breath after breath lifts me. Your vines, 

unruly, your fruit, sweet… I put the voices of my beloveds,
the dead and the living, into my mouth so I can finish 

the conversations we never had.

Poet's Notes:  This hungry, angry, heartbrokenness—this love lost, this regret, this "what if," this disbelief — are the subjects of “Hungry.” The drive of the poem comes from the line. The line lengths come from the drive of the speaker to speak, but also from a Terrence Hayes prompt that asks the poet to answer twelve unrelated questions. The answers become the poem. Some of the seemingly mundane questions were, "What is a food you used to love as a child?" "What are you wearing right now?" "What is a quote by a poet whose work you admire?" "Quote a line from one of your own poems." Such simple questions allowed this complex poem to emerge. 

Editor’s Note:  Ah, the one(s) that got away!  What a riveting narrative of loss and regret, of a life lived to the fullest yet empty all the same.  Ferleger creates just the right mood of joyful melancholy here--a push-pull that tears at the emotions of the reader.

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