Joanna Gordon

Upon seeing myself in a Grocery Store

I am watching a girl stare
at a box of Pop-Tarts with
the hungriest eyes
They are salivating.
Her bandy elbows
Her bowlegged strides
Her game,
I know better than she does.

I think I was drawn in wax crayons
with blunt tips
         because I have all these blind
curves and tendencies
to make my body
A kinked line
A damned mess.

By now,
she has given up on the sun.
The fog billows in her stomach
the tick in her chest
is so loud
I know
I hear it too.

She begins at the bakery.
A finger tracing the glistening
Lines of pastry
After pastry.
Do you want this?
I am better than this.

She asks the baker
about the specials.
What do you call gritted-teeth control?

I bet she gets a cookie
just to hold.
all the way home
until it falls into the hands
of anyone
but her.

She will stare at
the peanut butter aisle
for an hour.
Lines up brands
Oil content
per tablespoon.

I drip deep fried dough over a choking waistband.
There is grease sagging under my armpits.
I can’t remember how the rubber pancakes,
doused in syrup
jumped into my hands
pried open my lips.

Who has spooked you?

She kept saying
There was a car tire sitting around my waist
called me every gluttonous creature I had eaten
3 waffles, dipped in syrup, covered in peanut butter, 1 cup of blueberries, 1
granola bar, too much rice, too much chicken, granola bar, too many noodles, too
much cheese, a devil of a scoop of ice cream
I was chewing too desperate
I thought I could drown out this voice

The girl in your throat,
Did you tell her you loved her?
In hopes she would leave?
Did you tell her you love her?
In hopes she wouldn’t?

Her grocery cart is a prop.
In the baking aisle
we pass by the chocolate frosting
touch each shiny
spongy cake
on the processed square

The cereal aisle
is a minefield
blinking calorie counts
per portion
numbers she and I
will never scrub out of our heads.

Hands scooping out
Oreos hiding
in hip bones (245 cal per 4)
Hands unraveling
spaghetti knotted
around rib bones (450 cal)

Each aisle is an exam.
Does she think she is the first wizard?
The first to fashion her own waistline?

How many crime scenes
are on your fingers?

I don’t know how long I have
been fondling the milk carton
I don’t need.

What do you believe
is in between your thighs?

Body a forgotten language.
A damned mess.

Do you think you are
the only one
this good?
There is a layer of steel around my bones
It protects me from the hurricanes
that are my hands
the ones that do not know
the difference
between punishment
and reward.

And the girl in your throat,
What did she call you today?

Would you speak to your sister
The way she speaks to you?

Why are you so hell-bent
On hanging your medallions
Off of your own breast bone?

What is there to see through the gap of light?

Does it pierce through your two thighs?

What child let go of your ribbon?

What home is this that you are running from?

Are you exhausted yet?

Say Uncle.
Say it.

He Said

When all the eyes
weren’t looking
I took
your fear
sprinkled it
with salt
and pepper.

I slathered it
in butter
and around
the curves of 
its shoulders

Massaged it
in flour.
in a pan.
I slapped on
an egg
freshly whisked
Hollandaise sauce
all over.

I garnished it
with chorizo,
the smells
of your heritage.

I took
your fear
he said
When all the eyes
weren’t lookin’

and I cooked it

for you.

Will you eat with me?
He asked.
I said.

And I did.

Baninnur: A Basket of Food

Joanna Gordon is a poet who dwells in the reformed swamplands of Hawaiʻi Kai. She is a graduate of Kaiser High School and is currently a student in the Department of English at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. She’s involved with Pacific Tongues and has competed as both poet and coach for the youth-poetry organization’s events. She is a member of the University of Wisconsin’s First Wave Hip Hop Theatre Ensemble and co-wrote and performed in the collaborative production “Welcome Mat at Capacity” at the 2013 Line Breaks Festival. Joanna’s writing reflects the many voices of the women she has encountered. She uses them to heal, relate, and shed light upon the expectations and stereotypes bestowed upon women.  She also enjoys cereal.

detail of Diasporic Waters - Joy Enomoto - 2014