Thought Vomit

Let Them Eat Cake

A poem.


 

Often, I think of myself as emotionally adjusted

clear as sunlight streaming through the window

on a winter morning.

And usually, I am.

Usually I’m okay,

as okay as everyone else

who watches comedy shows to laugh

while feasting on a midnight snack.

Except these days, more laughter’s been needed

and more chocolate

and fries

and fruit

and crackers with cheese

but no wine, to keep it on the healthy side.

 

Am I sated, or still hungry?

 

On the eleventh week of a twelve week workout

without any progress photos (to document the improvements)

because I don’t need that kind of evidence (not until the very end anyway)

but really

because I feel like I failed.

I no longer recognize when I’m hungry and full

because even when my stomach is full

I still hunger.

Perhaps afflicted by a disorder all these years,

all these years of good and trouble,

years that have shaped a distorted relationship with food.

And maybe,

certain people.

I should be proud of eleven weeks of sticking it through,

but I’m ashamed

that I don’t see the fruits of my labor

that all the work has been for nothing

because of my hunger,

desperate, like a starved animal.

 

Somewhere along the way

maybe food became a currency of love.

There weren’t many words

or hugs

or things beyond the need,

or time,

but there was food.

Food was okay

because food is sustenance.

Food meant provision of basic needs to live,

and then some.

Then it became a story of how food turned gray and shiny.

Comforting, like the glow of Christmas lights

Harmless, like a second helping.

Delightful, like mini doughnuts and Dippin’ Dots.

A pair of shoes were incredulous, but not a sandwich.

They’d rather see you a little more on the fat than thin side

because as long as you don’t look like you’re starving

like you have enough, or a little more than enough

you’re healthy and fine.

It will look like

they’re taking care of you.

They’re playing their roles just right.

 

Who can blame the ones we love

when we don’t feel their love?

Often, we speak in different languages.

if you don’t hear it, it doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Of course certain people love us

Even if we don’t feel it

Even when there aren’t the right words

even when they can’t seem to know you,

know you,

after all these years.

There is love.

Maybe it’s the norm

to hope that when you speak,

they’re listening

and won’t forget.

Or be distracted by the television.

Or a phone call.

Just trust that your answers

won’t get buried beneath the busyness of work.

And when it does,

what can we really do,

but move on,

with the help of God and the gospel.

(even if that oscillates too)

Trust that it comes from a good,

albeit imperfect place.

Even when they respond

in verses

after verses

of paragraphs

of verses

that aren’t their own words.

Maybe they don’t know what to say

or how to think

as well.

We’re all broken somehow.

Even when the structures they build to protect you

always crumble and leak

and you tiptoe as though eggshells covered the floor

with shadows of broken promises

lingering like the smell of cigarettes.

I guess we’ll take it.

And learn how to feed ourselves,

and not be a burden,

because we need to eat

to survive.

 

No one is perfect.

And we forgive the ones we love

even when they try to hold us by the neck

using hypothetical dying wishes to tie us down

to posts of their own choosing.

If only they didn’t teach you how to stand

but clipped your wings

so that they can hear you sing from up close

because music

makes everything

seem better.

Like love is in the air

and everyone’s plate

has a slice of cake.

 

We try,

for the ones we love

even when we’ve long run out

and start wondering if it’s ever been filled.

Our tanks have holes from decades of crossfire

but doesn’t everyone?

Isn’t everyone in some form and amount of pain,

and dealing with it?

Besides,

even if we don’t have love (or feel it)

Can we demand love?

Can we resent others and blame them each time

we don’t seem to have it?

And make them feel guilty

and terrible

because they’re not playing their part right.

Or are we blind to the streams that want to fill our tanks?

So we try to plug the holes with bread

and the guilty, broken spirits

manipulated into submission,

conflicted in will,

will guard our tanks while they try to figure it out

(if they ever will)

and make sure that you’re well fed

not starving

maybe a little on the fat side,

like they’re coddled

because even if it’s not the healthiest,

a little more is better than nothing, isn’t it?

Then we can all enjoy the serotonin

of a midnight snack together

while laughing together

at a sitcom.

 

I don’t like to tie down, but desire to hold others lightly

as lightly as I want to be held.

I don’t believe that anything

or anyone

can fill my tank

and fix the holes

the way I need to never be hungry

or thirsty

because I would need the River itself.

Love can’t exist in a vacuum,

and needs community and family,

but to use community, family, and friends to fix it

would be to put them

beneath a weight

that will crush them.

To the kind ones who sit beside my tank,

resting a hand on it while we share milk and cookies:

thank you.

I’ll figure out the rest eventually,

whether I’m hungry or full,

and how to make food not shiny

or gray

but nourishment

for a body that I want to care for.

I’d rather shrivel up like a leaf

and crumble in the wind

than hollow someone else out

by sucking whatever blood I need

like a parasite.

 

Of course, you say you love me

that you have loved me, all these years

and I believe it

I will believe it

and remember it as best as I can

one memory after another

like counting sheep

to be able to fall asleep.

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