Elise Ball

How to Feed

When you still texted me things like 
dream good dreams I confided once
that the night before I had dreamed 
about severed hands. I had to hide them 

I said I didn’t do the severing 
but I thought someone would think I did
so I buried them everywhere 
and you said um ok night babe and I feel 

like I should’ve seen the forecast for the weather 
under which you were tilling my lands

suspecting I wielded a secret knife. 
You scoured for evidence and I panicked 

in the shadowy dirt with the weight of believing 
I had something to hide raining 

onto my head and my scraping fingertips
in the clay echoing louder in the cavern 

of my belly which I was too anxious 
and busy digging to feed so my body 

brittled and you touted this as part 
of the proof you were seeking and of course

now in hindsight I see I should’ve shoveled up 
every bloody appendage, applied generous salt 

garlic and sage, fried them in the heavy 
cast iron my best friend gave me for my birthday 

she said so you can fill yourself up. 
I should’ve piled them on my kitchen table 

tasting slowly every last bite because even 
the dark things thrown into our dirt

can be transfigured into what feeds.
I am not someone who is good. 

I’m just someone seeking the unsavory 
scraps of trying. I should’ve invited you over

to dine and when I offered you a taste and you 
declined I would not have minded 

Content and brimming, I’d have waved a hand 
and said I’m going to bed, you can let yourself out.


Black and white photo of Elise Ball outdoors. Elise has long hair and is resting her chin on her hand. In the background is a large tree.

Elise Ball is an artist and writer currently residing in Southern Appalachia, though she hails from the San Francisco Bay Area. She is an MFA candidate at Queens University of Charlotte, where she also serves as an editorial assistant for Qu magazine. Her work was recently featured in TulipTree Review and Dogwood: A Journal of Poetry and Prose.

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