Poem from Lindsey White

Anyone Hungry?

Mom pushes herself away from the table with a loud
squeak from the chair legs. My body
slumps, full from a satisfying meal. I don’t feel like speaking
tonight. My mind is already clouded, but I listen to mom, always loud and dramatic.

Dad’s breathy laugh drifts through the kitchen as my sister finishes her story, and the hum of the heater turns to warm us all.

“Dessert?”, Mom offers, walking back with her homemade
peanut butter pie. I can hear Dad smile without looking at his face. Peanut butter pie is his favorite. My mother sits in front of me, closer to the heater, a woman who is always cold no matter the season.

She makes a comment about my sister. The word “selfish”
slices the air, a knife sharper than what she used to cut
our roast beef. Tension rises with the heat in the kitchen.
Their voices clash against the ceiling.

Dad, complacent to conflict, puts his hands up in a T as if he is a referee.
“Time-out, time-out”, he says.
I stare at the bottom of the heater.

No one hears him. My sister's voice
starts to shake.

on the hum of the heater.
on the floor.
Sparks sneak out the edge of
the black box. My heart quickens
its beating. No one notices
a thing, but I see a spark
touch the wood floor, see it grow
into a flame,
stretch its vengeful
fingers towards
my mom's chair.

She screams.
I don’t think.
The cord is right
next to me,
so I reach.

The hum of the heater
stops its singing,
and I am left to stare at the black hole
tattooed on our kitchen floor.