Poetry: Physick by Kendra Whitfield


The women in my family swallow anger like aspirin:

Choked down with cold coffee
Abandoned on the edge of a cluttered counter,
Forgotten during chaos

The women in my family swallow disappointment like butter:

Cold slabs of it on Easter Morning hot cross buns,
So thick they could be shards of the tomb-sealing rock,
Souvenirs for disbelievers when salvation never comes.

The women in my family swallow fear like cheap wine:

Cut-glass thimble goblets forced down unwilling gullets
After Grace, before meat, never knowing
We could say, “No.”

The women in my family swallow resentment like lukewarm tea:

Endless cups poured from leaky tin pots
In hospital cafeterias that reek of
Over-boiled turnips and urine-soaked sheets.

The women in my family swallow kindness like razor blades:

It cannot truly be meant for us-
We accept it with a smile while the taste of blood
Riots down our throats like a waterfall.

The women in my family swallow love like Ambien:

Blue oblivion eclipsing consciousness,
Releasing us from obligatory dreams,
Granting respite but no rest.

We swallow grief like whiskey:

Letting it rise
Embracing the burn.

First appeared in the anthology We Were Not Alone (Community Building Art Works, 2021)

Kendra Whitfield lives and writes on the southern edge of the northern boreal forest.  When not writing, she can be found basking in sunbeams on the back deck or swimming laps at the local pool.  Her poetry appears in The Raven Review, The Rye Whiskey Review and in the anthology, We Were Not Alone (Community Building Art Works, November, 2021).