THE OUT-OF-BREAD POEM
John Travolta moves as a gif inside an Edward Hopper
painting, Phillies on the diner sign, a thing people
are sharing as I eat jam from the jar. No bread today.
My tiny son poops in the bathroom, door open.
I wait for him to call out for assistance
while my phone hiccups, delivers an electronic
rain of notifications. I miss old-fashioned rain.
Letters too. The fact of fingers and breath
that touch an envelope. Like old friends,
I don’t know whether I really loved
these events or just their familiarity.
If I jog every time I get a rejection message
will I develop a musculature to my writing style,
or just a more defined body? Moving
money from one account to another,
then back, I exchange my worries
across borders. I am accustomed to losing
at least thirty percent. I do not have the MA
or PhD required for this position.
May I list you as a reference anyway?
All my hair is turning silver—
by my next birthday I suspect the color
will have gone entirely, easily as ice cream
on a summer day. Last week my mother
asked me when I will get health insurance
and I haven’t phoned her since.
When my son is ready for school
we walk down three flights of stairs. His shoes
must touch each step at the same time:
he wants to tin-soldier stand all the way down
even though he does not know soldiers from
soup cans. The night after the Paris Attacks,
he threw up all over the bed linens. It smelled
of chocolate, a slightly lovelier puke
than other pukes. But I feared
this sudden illness was because I cried
in front of him. Is this what it means
to be old? To be attached to one so small
who tugs me forward with such weight
whenever I stop paying attention.
Emily Schultz is the author of the novels The Blondes, and Men Walking on Water (out now with Knopf, Canada). Her poetry collection, Songs for the Dancing Chicken, was a finalist for the Trillium Award for Poetry, and her poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Walrus, and Event. She lives in Brooklyn.