OXIDANT | ENGINE : Issue 8

Hannah Loeb

Idaho Leftovers

 

Twice since Christmas,

older women who have loved me

imperially & at the exclusion of others

wrote that at first they found me

“eager,” warning their readers

not to misread me. So that was

a possibility? My footsteps

in the snow can mean

only one thing. The pigs know.

The lavender glow

of evening brings feed now

and feed only: with a month

to live (per James’s decree,

a different matter), Vernon’s

so big that scraps from our table,

the reason we even got the fucker,

amount to a cruel snack, almost

worse than nothing, so I let

a second shovelful of pellets rain

on his head while he froths

through the first, chewing

angrily. Is there nothing

that will make use of all,

and only, scraps? Poems

won’t -- even this one

hacks the tid bits I’m feeding it

back up & won’t swallow,

for instance, the pomegranate

I saw Petunia try. It turned her mouth

fuschia & I thought how great!

Or how I caught myself

in bed with James one morning

making a noise not unlike

the arctic moan enmeshed

with shit-cement the pigs make

when I approach the barn.

Immediately I re-remembered it

as animal abandon. But I won’t

misremember myself here: it was

culture pure, that dirty word,

if culture’s that distaste for

and reliance upon scraps,

a muted yell at the intersection of

wrecks, a selfish smell,

a pig-eye smashed

against a barn door

with the light going down

on Christmas...Well,

I can be misread after all. I’m writing

now about sex, as usual. About how

James can’t believe I’d make a noise

like a pig while fucking

so he forgets I did it, sets it

aside like a watermelon

rind and lets the pigs eat it.

Redfish Lake

 

At elevation I borrow

Patrick’s dead wife’s puffy

coat and Elliot’s pregnant

wife’s daypack. The PDF

of her baby too high

in resolution’ll peel a pale

forehead across my iPhone soon

but the little service we get

goes to “ersatz” and cocoa mix

nutrition facts.  Patrick’s not

the type of guy who notices

if you put the puffy

on the ground to serve yourself

cocoa mix, Pilar’s sure. Patrick’s

daughter is named Piper and

camping the first summer after

asked if the eclipse was her mother!

Marshmallows grow softer

than the store promised they would

in lukewarm water. I don’t know.

I breathe only

when the line is ringing & the line

is always ringing. James whom I’m

calling might die like puffy wife and

I might whisk the crinkled panic

of a life. You have to go until your arm

gets sore. Making whipped cream

does its harm. If he died I’d

fling a fiery why way down

to the shore. His face is inches

away but sometimes more.

You can put the coat on the ground

but you dare not put it on the floor.

Hannah Loeb's poetry has appeared in Ninth Letter, Booth, American Chordata, Prodigal, Sequestrum, Gasher, and Ornery Quarterly. In 2015, she earned her MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and she is currently a PhD candidate in English at the University of Virginia.