Back to Issue Thirty-One

Letter to How Did We Get Here


I read that we are returning to beauty,
but I can’t get past beauty’s cluster
of vowels, the eau of French water, a sea
where the ugly go to drown. If I filled up
on dumplings and walked into a lake,
would it be suicide or proof that the body’s
limits begin and end with hunger?
In films, couples picnic next to bodies
of water, make love on gingham until
fucking, too, is a boring blue pattern.
The women are always beautiful
and I know, I know they never smell
like onions, their cunts never pickle
in the heat, and when their loved ones die,
they apply cold cream, rewash their cutlery
until trauma rips off its gown made of strobe
lights and steps into the dowdy nightgown
of grief. I have no idea how to explain
my body. Some days it is a square
of slightly darker pavement where a dumpster
used to be. Other days, it is a chatroom
where men can hide their crimes and become
beautiful in the digital glow. I did not start
from beauty, but from a loving accident –
not a car crash but another kind of material
urgency, not the sickness from rotten shrimp,
but the way the apostrophe of their bodies
becomes possession. If I own my breasts,
my crooked mouth, the heavy Victorian drapes
of my cunt, than I own an unwanted property.
Beauty bathes in the blood of the ruined. Am I wet,
or am I rotting? In the sea of beauty, the monsters
low like modems, like the beginning
of a weak connection.



Letter to the Canned Peaches I Held in my Mouth then Spit Out During Recess When Trying to Understand What Bulimia Meant


If God is not symmetrical, why should I believe
in reciprocal love, butterflies, an ass spread with want?

Vanishing twin syndrome tells me that my hunger
is justified. I can eat my brother whole, spend a lifetime

dysmorphic and holding my loose flesh to the sky
as a desperate sacrifice. I still believe in the ideal iceberg,

the arctic sublime. 42,000 year old frozen roundworms
were thawed and stroked back to life. Uncanny,

this similarity to desire. They immediately started eating.
This is not how I would make my debut. It is OK to feel

important, nay, impotent. If you whisper into the toilet
I will never love my child as much as I hate myself

who will hear but the entire cast of anorexia mirabilis?
Thinness thrives on the holy cross of x: anxiogenics,

asphyxia, afflux. My reflection is a mitosis. My only
mothering, watching my daughter cells split. I expand.

I collapse. I crave. When I fuck my own fist, I am hoping
to discover wonder and masculinity. If only it was that easy

to skewer the oppressive meat of the body, not once
acknowledging a scream as an ancient form of happiness.



Meghan Privitello is the author of A New Language for Falling out of Love (YesYes Books, 2015), Notes on the End of the World, winner of the Black River Chapbook Competition (Black Lawrence Press, 2016), and One God at a Time (YesYes Books, 2020). Poems have appeared in GuernicaGulf CoastA Public SpaceBest New PoetsPlease Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation, and elsewhere. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Social Work.

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