“Hungers” by Catherine Moore
She breathes deeply; it’s one of the few intrusions her body enjoys now, and she meditates fullness. Her husband left thirty-five years ago. She has as many years without him as with, more if one counts the years before college. Which she does because life started at their first date. And if she feels utterly mournful, she pulls out the Carmen Ash and wears satin for an afternoon. Not many seventy-year-olds can still wear sleeveless, or contoured waist. Her daughter-in-law is jealous. Makes a point of reciting the items in her refrigerator— cottage cheese, crackers, and Jell-O—under the guise of something for the grandkids to eat.
“But that’s what the Little Debbies are for,” she tells her daughter-in-law.
Still, the damn girl whispers ‘eating disorder’ behind her back to everyone in the family. It’s not believable. She knows the children won’t listen; it’s not like she is some coed vomiting in a dorm bathroom. And she is healthy, well, usual aging stuff—sinking skin, bone-density. Her children’s questions are squelched with the mother’s eye. The real nuisance is the kudzu of hair that covers her. Thick cottony down all over. She shaves more and more: face, arms, across her shoulder blades. Frustrating. And the muscle-spasms—tremors that take away yoga classes, cramps that keep her from morning walks—it’s maddening.
Some days pass without a stretch of meal. It seems pointless to fuel a futile body and there’s the paunch of her belly that troubles her. She’d rather stop talking to the doctor, so she had her grandson teach her how to google pharmaceutical solutions instead. If she remembers where those research notes are. The Post-its have covered her walls like damask paper and yet, everything seems somewhere out of sight. She dare not make a call to re-inquire. Calling makes the emptiness true. Calling provokes questions.
“Wait, what made you upset?” She pauses and doesn’t know the answer. It’s just that it is all falling away, she cries over the phone. “Have you eaten today?” that irritating girl asks again.
She honestly can’t remember.
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Catherine Moore Artist Statement:
Catherine Moore’s writing has appeared in Tahoma Literary Review, Cider Press
Review, Southampton Review, Caesura, Still: the Journal, The Tishman Review, concīs,
and in various anthologies. She has two chapbook collections (Finishing Line Press and
Kentucky Story Press) with another forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press. A Percy
Walker fellow, she won the Southeast Review’s 2014 Poetry Prize and had work included
in “The Best Small Fictions of 2015.” She’s a recipient of a Nashville MetroArts grant.
Catherine earned a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Tampa, and she teaches at
a community college. She’s tweetable @CatPoetic.