H E R M E N E U T I C C H A O S J O U R N A L
Kate Bucca is an MFA candidate in poetry and fiction at Vermont College of Fine Arts - where she serves as the Vermont Book Award Fellow and a reader for Hunger Mountain - and the author of the novel Companion Plants (Fomite, 2014). Her work has appeared in Limestone, The Nervous Breakdown, The Manifest-Station, DigBoston, Pithead Chapel, and elsewhere. Find more of her work at creaturesinminiature.com.
When I punched my own stomach to stop you from growing
hungry, your father
never knew. Each week he sent me to the food bank where
a pastor placed his palm on my forehead. No permission asked.
Church teaches a new form of begging: prayer and thanks in
exchange for the chance to fill a plastic bag with enough
cast-offs to last the week. Claim a package
of chicken breasts; slimy and pale orange pink lets you know it's
a gamble. Pray you can cook away any danger, quiet
a husband with a well-timed meal. Poverty aches in
waves, a sore that does not heal but gapes open, irritated by the slightest
movement toward healing.
When I punched my own stomach you couldn’t fight back, so I fought
myself for you.
I made mosaics of pills on the bedside table,
lined up blades like silver
picket fences. Enticements to end my own life –
still, I lacked courage. Shallow cuts,
instead; the tracks of remembering.
On a Sunday morning, a pastor rails against
abortion, denounces as murderer any woman who would
give up a gift from God. The cost of abuse includes
a lien against the soul of a woman who can
neither leave nor keep.
When I punched my own stomach repeatedly over several
days until the fist struck like a sentence falling, every
muscle that cables up and
down my front contracted to
protect me, not you. Sometimes I imagine that
you're still hidden inside me, sequenced DNA with different
strands, implanted in my leg or shoulder or chest – a part of
me I will not know to beat when I do not bleed – and are growing, quietly, the extra
weight I feel with each step but cannot
touch, waiting for the day when our tissue dissolves
together in the ground.
B Y K A T E B U C C A
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