The World Needs More Single Mom Poems

“Puzzle” and “Sitcom Therapy,” two poems by Ramona McCallum

The World Needs More Single Mom Poems

PUZZLE

We’re looking for the cloud
with a little bit of town on it,

Vera and I, with three hundred pieces
spread out on the table before us.

Last night we connected the edges,
then fell asleep like we used to —

when my youngest was a baby —
curled up, side by side, on the bed.

The slot beneath my neck and chin fit
perfect above the tab of her silky brown head,

as though we’d been contour cut,
then put back together by God.

It’s morning and our Cheerios
go soggy in the bowl we share,

Vera and I, in our task of attaching
fantastic fuchsia blooms above

a white unicorn that gallops through
the foreground. Soon, her dad

will pick her up and I’ll keep
sorting out the pieces

of this puzzle, not quite done.

SITCOM THERAPY

An entire season in the single episode
of my latest depression — I’m trying, once
again to escape my non-stop crying.
Trade in tears for a pint of frozen
custard. Well, two. But
I paced myself: each spoonful
deliberate, each bite of butter pecan
inserted like a jagged rock
then pulled out — sculpted down

to half its size, rounded smooth
by the roof of my mouth and the spoon’s
slick path, sliding across the hill
of my tongue. If I may eat ice cream
this slowly, surely I can halt my thoughts

of him, and where we went
wrong. The worst is recalling
how, even after the sex
went sour and my lips ached from missing
the kisses he dodged, his mouth
had not yet gone completely silent.

He still made me laugh. Sublime,
that laughter, like water
after one of our four-mile runs
with baby joggers, up and down
Tally Trail. I kept hoping we’d make it,

make life fit the big picture
we spoke of when we first got to town.
Even after his tenure and lectures
on art history consumed all desire
to speak at home, to me, he still mustered
punchlines that made my guts ache

from feeling how funny he was,
that guy I married, the father of my kids.
Now my stomach grips a chilly, churning
knot of milk, thick with sugar and things
on the label I have trouble
pronouncing, without
my middle-aged glasses.

In my teens, the calories made me
stick my finger down my throat so fast,
after a binge like this, my purge
tasted just like it did going down.
Now, thoughts of puking

make me wish I were a big, fat
mama bird in a nest, feeding
her young — like the ones I hear
beyond the window, above
the sitcom’s canned applause.
Credits fade to a glowing
bruise, close to dawn.

“Puzzle” and “Sitcom Therapy” are published here by permission of the author, Ramona McCallum. Copyright © Ramona McCallum 2018. All rights reserved.

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