Bowl of Cheetos Holy
BY CLAUDIA CORTESE
This is how I pray—in a blue square of light
I bow my head over a bowl of Cheetos.
And this is how I am good—I watch dad
demand mom bring the salt the pepper
the San Pellegrino the bowl of steamed broccoli
the cheddar that she wash his socks his coffee-stained
suit jacket as he tells her you wouldn’t understand
you never listen don’t interrupt me
and I hear what he says but doesn’t say—
you’re stupid you’re stupid you’re stupid,
and I don’t say anything, I study harder
and eat Oreos and feel sugary relief
glistening like snow down my intestines,
and when the cicadas or locusts or whatever
buzzes in the leaves fills my room
I weigh myself and punch my thigh—
I fog the window with my breath, write
the world is too much with us
and watch words dissolve, reveal
the oaks’ green teeth.
Claudia Cortese’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Best New Poets 2011, Blackbird, Crazyhorse, DIAGRAM, and The Kenyon Review Online, among others. Cortese recently completed her first book of poetry, which explores trauma, myth, fairy tales, and girlhood. She lives and teaches in New Jersey.