BUY THE KNIVES
All the girls at recess are a gaggle
of little mothers. They’re being horrible
to each other. Imagine them as parents,
punishing their adorable future horribles.
This whole set-up is a set-up: being born
to folks who must betray us to keep us
alive. We end up first-in-line to shovel
soil over their breathless bodies. It’s like,
I DIDN’T ASK TO BE BORN!
is valid critique. Think about it: what’s not
coercion? Yesterday, I resented the sunset
in my eyes and squinted. Today, I ate splinters
of cold butter and sunflower sprouts on toast. Still
dark outside: this is breakfast in winter.
This is the life I was amputated
into. My mom sighs, Don’t have children. I can’t
love anyone else. Love is an exhausting business
model. A pyramid scheme. We get so far in,
instinct forces us to buy the knives, find stuff
to mince. As a kid, I learned, distraught,
my death will happen on a normal day.
It’s not fair. Life is so full of shit
we love, any blade is too dull to carve us
cleanly out of it. This is the thing
I can’t remember: what my mother said
when I couldn’t stop crying about dying.
Whatever it was— her hands held my face.
She followed it with a question, You wanna go
take your bath? I didn’t have a choice. I nodded.
Yes, I felt myself choose it. I stayed in the tub
until my tiny hands puckered, suddenly ancient.
ABOUT THE POET
Shelby Handler is a writer, organizer, and educator living on Duwamish territory/Seattle. A 2019 Richard Hugo House fellow, their recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Gigantic Sequins, Pacifica Literary Review, Homology Lit, 3Elements Review, and the Write Bloody anthology We Will Be Shelter: Poems for Survival. Follow them: @shelbeleh
ABOUT SUGAR HOUSE REVIEW
We’ve loved reading the work that we’ve published (clearly), so now we want an opportunity to better hear our contributors. We will feature an audio recording of a poem from one of our seven issues, read by the poet and updated every couple of weeks. This an open invitation to all contributors from any of our issues, we were delighted to print your work, now we’re eager to hear it.