Geophagia

by MEG FREITAG

 

I ate the Bitteroots. 
I ate the Sawtooths. 
I ate the Caribous. 

It was the day I realized
I’ve been spending my life
Using my eyes
Like mouths. The dense smoke
Of my appetite stretched out
Across the mountains. It isn’t enough
To just see something, sometimes
You want to grind it down
To a paste and pack it
Away in your cells
So that no one else
Can ever call it theirs.

That was the day
I could say I’ve tasted
The long brown stain
Of horseblood
On the highway, 
The delicate dust of a dozen
Wedding dresses all yellowing
In the window of a church
Thrift shop, the soot
Of an entire forest
Gnawed by fire
Down to black spikes, the silver
X-ray of someone I once thought
I would marry’s
Girlfriend’s uterus
On my Facebook newsfeed
In the rest stop bathroom. 

Later, carsick, 
I sucked on
White crosses
Stuck in the roadside
Earth all along
The narrow, weaving pass
And wondered aloud
If the smaller ones meant it was a child
Who died, but the man riding
Beside me didn’t think so. 

That was the day
I gorged myself on the summer
Snow, the roofless
Barns, the stained
Glass windows right out
The side of the roofless
Stone church. The sweet
Grass then
The timothy hay. Then
Mercury from the strip
Mines ‘til my eyes
Were cold lanterns
In a town called Wisdom, 
Rocking back
And forth in the
Colloidal dusk. A bag of Sun
Chips from a vending
Machine, a piece
Of peppermint taffy.

Fata Morgana
Is how we explain seeing
A lemonade stand
On top of a lake
Or a school bus
Of kids unloading
On top of a mountain—
That which stays
The same
Distance away from us
No matter how far
We travel trying to get to it. 
That which we will never

Touch. I have spent my life
A huntress of mirages. 
The thing that’s most difficult
About truly loving
Someone is not the impulse
To devour, but the simultaneous
Impulse to preserve. The man

Riding beside me, his salty
Green eyes like little
Pistachios. A crystalline
Kindness in them
I want to keep right
Where it is. We are on our way
To visit his sister
And two young nieces. But how

Does one
Not starve to death
Like this? Carrying something
So gently
In their teeth.