Tuesday, September 14, 2021



My friend sends an email linked to news
about women freezing their eggs—
as early as possible in their 30s,
she says. My fiancé is on the phone
with “his” jeweler about Christmas diamonds.
I don’t like diamonds, the way they look
obligatory and mean. My eggs, I’m told,
degrade a little more each year. There’s
a surgical mesh—I don’t quite understand this—
I could have implanted in my breasts,
“to give them a natural lift again,” to make me
look like a woman whose eggs are still intact,
who men still want. I read this in an in-flight
magazine. “You know how women over 40
are invisible,” says the man ahead of me
in the grocery line. “I don’t have any problem
getting laid. She’s gonna know she screwed up
real soon though, my ex.” Snow comes
early this year and turns the roads to diamond
lacquer. My affianced canceled his flight
for uncertain reasons, and I might brave the drive
to my parents’. I remember when Thanksgiving
was fleece by a fire. We’d ice cookies
and decorate a tree. At 16, ferrying
deviled eggs on a cut-glass plate,
I overheard grandmother telling mother
I had a nice figure—my breasts, then,
in no need of mesh. Still, the feeling wasn’t
gladness but shame. “If I come out, you’ll only
start a fight,” the fiancé says because I am,
like the rest of my sex, irrational, though
on the upside, I know how to bake a pie
and I like, he says with certainty,
cleaning things. “Your house is always
so clean.” I hate to clean, just less
than I hate a mess. The line between
when he means it and when he’s goading
often erodes. Snow keeps sifting through
the streetlights like static, like the silver
notes of an oboe. It’s true I’ve wanted
a wedding, photogenic with tea lights,
a real band. It’s true the venue’s already
booked. Of my one book, the older
male writer said, “It’s too feminine—
the title and also that dress on your cover.”
The woman’s body, her diamonds,
the gown, an embarrassment
of curves and froth. “Emotional,”
the fiancé says. “You get emotional.”
I froth yes, in flounces of poems. It’s true
mom taught me how to make sauces,
true she taught me how to just take it.
It’s true I’ve already tasted the cake
and found it much too sad.



Claire McQuerry’s poetry collection Lacemakers (Southern Illinois University Press) won the Crab Orchard First Book Prize, and her poems have appeared in Tin House, Waxwing, Poetry Northwest, American Literary Review, and other journals. She is an assistant professor at Bradley University.



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