Milk doesn’t curdle in my stomach like I’d convinced myself it did.
It feels safe, like a protective layer of fat in the winter months.
My first year of college, the milk in the dining hall tasted sour,
pumped from plastic bags and tubular nipples. I bloomed ever
larger and gave up my childish things—rest, contentment, the comfort
of full meals—intolerance was the language of grief. I felt hungry every
day and reveled in it. No sin could stain me the more I abstained.
I was eighteen and lost in a blizzard, my friends invisible
in a curtain of light, walking circles in place as if tamping a hole in time—
it is so easy to get lost—but then the sun shunted through the clouds
and in a shiver of birdsong everything was still. When I think of myself
that day, I am insulated by layers of polyester fill in a bunker carved
from snow listening to one friend say I begged God for a sign,
I kept thinking the clouds would part and there would be birds
and another saying, isn’t it strange we eat our own god?
Elizabeth McIntosh lives in Belfast, where she studied poetry at the Seamus Heaney Centre. Her recent work can be found in bath magg, Poetry Ireland Review, and Angels Flight Literary West.