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I'm quite fond of Buddhism, but I draw the line at Lobsters -- poetry by Charlotte Budman


I used to like watching the

lobsters who live

at the grocery store.

We'd go to pick up a prescription

and I'd drag mom to the

seafood isle,

press my grubby fingers

to the glass tank,

ask about the

rubber bands on their pinchers.


Dad's colon gave up

sometime after I was born.

The doctors had to

remove the whole thing,

rearrange it all, and

Frankenstein what intestines

decided not to quit.


When I am four years old,

my interests include lobsters,

foodcourt Doritos,

and playing with the remote

to dad's hospital bed.


Listening to it hum

while I sit next to him,

giggling as it

shifts.

Up, up, up,

now flat again.


I'm almost old enough for

kindergarten

when the dog

can't use the stairs anymore.


Mom and dad are left carrying

forty-five pounds of

german shepherd-greyhound

to and from the basement.


Bryce goes to the vet and

doesn't come back.

Something about

internal bleeding.


All I remember thinking

is how

that's where the blood's

supposed to be?


In middle school,

mom slices her finger open with a

serrated knife.

She presses a rag to it

as it drips down the

kitchen sink.


I have to convince her to

go to Urgent Care,

ends up needing stitches.

There's still bloodied

Bounty paper towels in the

cup holder when we

go to drive home.


That isn't where blood's

supposed to be.


I'm fourteen when we get

"two weeks" off school

and a dystopian voice

at the grocery store

starts telling everyone to stay

six feet apart.


I have to wear a mask

if I want to see the

lobsters.


Fifteen years old when we take a

day trip to Philly

dressed in all black

for my uncle's funeral.


I don't cry,

just gaze at the

stain glass windows and

try to forget how

church pews are meant to

hold something holy.


Seventeen when a car

decides not to look

and I'm swerving

into the wrong lane.


Mia white knuckles the

passenger seat,

encourages me to pull over.

Other car doesn't stop,

and the Subaru is left with

a thin scar.


She tells me I'm

unreasonably calm.

I nod and pretend my foot isn't

jack-rabbiting the brake pedal

while we sit parked on

Page street.


I don't visit the lobsters anymore.

I can't help but wonder

if they know just how

close they are.


 

Charlotte Budman is a junior from Central Pennsylvania who enjoys far too much black coffee, not nearly enough sleep, and people watching—often all at once. She doesn't generally seek to publish her poetry, but her tenth grade English teacher is a persistent man with a penchant for leaving persuasive sticky notes.

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