Poetry: Foreshadowed by Michelle Reale


On Sunday evenings, my grandmother drank her coffee right from the saucer and folded her prescription pills in cottage cheese and grape jelly, but still, she winced as they slid down her throat.  She’d give me words of wisdom because she’d had a vision that she wouldn’t live long. She’d say Those with big feet are lucky—they get a firm foundation.  I looked at my own feet growing so rapidly, yet still feeling the ground beneath me bottomless.  Years later I suffered spasms under my ribcage like thousands of angry butterflies that were like a metaphor for life—something that was supposed to be beautiful, but could corner and sideswipe you at will. Eventually, all of my internal organs were deemed unremarkable by someone who knows much better than I ever could, saying nothing of my mind, or my fragile emotional lexicon. I channeled my grandmother’s predictable approach, but failed miserably in the execution. In imitation, I drank coffee from saucers and stayed awake most nights listening for an owl she’d always said was an omen of nothing good. Nothing good.  Out of my head and into the world, I heard the targeted insults, though I was too hardened by my own shame to do anything about them.  I had a realistic appreciation of most situations and learned a valuable lesson that I will never forget: when someone says they wish you well, you can be sure they mean anything but. As hard a pill as I have ever had to swallow.

Michelle Reale is the author of several poetry and flash collections, including Season of Subtraction (Bordighera Press, 2019) and Blood Memory (Idea Press), and In the Year of Hurricane Agnes (Alien Buddha Press).  She is the Founding and Managing Editor for both OVUNQUE SIAMO: New Italian-American Writing and The Red Fern Review. She teaches poetry in the MFA program at Arcadia University.


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