my fire-breathing mother says she believes in love—

she preaches starvation, picks the latest
drive-thru-visit hoard from her teeth
with my toothpick legs


my disordered eating is put on backwards

(she makes it known
I am not allowed to be hungry, so
I learned to make a bag of pretzels last three days
I shapeshift, deerlike in so many ways—
licking salt to feed my woodland bones)


my disordered eating is an unpopular opinion

(she keeps charts of her losses
too busy cave-painting to put dinner
down for me / pets and babies / we are
the same / her slender knick-knacks
embryonic castaways / servants on display)


and one day, far from our cave, in the year-bend future
I am comfortable, with my five thriving children


yet my own hunger squeaks unheard
because there is always a more pressing thing to be than fed:

useful / busy / quiet / folded in on myself as
lined loose-leaf paper, an idle note passed
on a winter afternoon / a slight machine performing
tasks while taking up the least amount of space


I am small-framed no matter what I do
I grew my nine-pound babies in my cushioned womb

imprisoned them against my will
in the cramped cradle of my childlike hips


they were torn from me by a well-meaning world
given their gifts of first breaths

grateful, I pulled them to my breast
with pixie hands on willow switch wrists


and underneath this nurturing flesh / this altar I have constructed
against muscle memory / a nightmarish peace I long ago embraced:

I am a skeleton, burnt at the stake

I am a green-eyed skull, waiting

Kate 2018

Kate Garrett is a queer autistic writer, mama, and editor. Her poetry is widely published online and in print, has been longlisted for a Saboteur Award, and nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Her next chapbook Land and Sea and Turning will be published by CWP Collective Press in late summer 2018. Kate was born and raised in southern Ohio, but moved to the UK in 1999, where she still lives happily/grumpily ever after in Sheffield. Twitter @mskateybelle

Image: ANUGA 2017 – 08 by Rajesh Pamnani (Creative Commons)