Gorge

Dion O'Reilly

I was always hungry,no, I wanted to be fed.No, not that.I wanted to be filledonce and for all, a manfilling me, a huge man,stuffed completely by a man.They couldn’t, of course,no one could,they smelled somethingon my breath, my need,my arrogance.Not arrogance,derangement, thinking myselfsupreme. Invulnerable. Royaltyto their temporary lust.They knelt before mebefore they took meand left. I couldn't stop myself—Four dozen brown-butter kringlersfrom the Norwegian Bakery,half a cherry piefrom The Marketime Grocery,where it smelled like sausages,and I bounced checks.I’d drive to an overlookin Ballard, eat every bitwith a quart of milk.I felt full, no, not full,like I might dieif I hit my stomachagainst the steering wheel.Looking out on the blueof the Sound, I saw Mount Olympus,with its mantle of ice—like a godI couldn’t talk to.Sitting in my car, I watched an old manwalking in a southwester, his nylon parkacovering him completely,a small black Scottie dogon a leash. I was jealous of them,the way they aimlesslytook their way throughthe lawn and wet rhododendron.Couldn’t stand to look at them.Climbed in the backseat.Pushed a cottony tampon down my craw,held it with a string.Careful. No fingernailto make my throat bleed.I felt beautifulwhen my stomach decanted,concave under my fingertips.No, I didn't. I feltlike a lizard. When I breathed,I smelled little pearls of vomit.I felt hungry. No, I wanted to be fed,no, I wanted a man. That’s the wayI wanted it.

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Dion O’Reilly’s first book, Ghost Dogs, was published in February 2020 by Terrapin Books. Her poems and essays appear in Narrative, The Massachusetts Review, New Letters, Sugar House Review, New Ohio Review, Rattle, The Sun, Catamaran, Grist, Tupelo Quarterly and other literary journals and anthologies. She teaches poetry workshops in a house full of wild art situated in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and she is a member of The Hive Poetry Collective which produces podcasts about poetry in the Monterey Bay area and around the world. (dionoreilly.wordpress.com)

Volume 85 No. 4

Kansas City, Missouri

University of Missouri-Kansas City

Editor-in-Chief
Christie Hodgen

Assistant Editor
Ashley Wann

“One of America’s most consistently interesting literary magazines. Both on the air and on the page, New Letters makes a serious contribution to culture across the nation.”
—Alan Cheuse, National Public Radio book critic

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