Nellie Bellows

Lick It Clean


The waitress pours honey into a spoon,

licks it clean,

thinks no one’s watching. It is silent,


a sweet reminder in the throat,

a swallow. Like a mother

pouring medicine


balances the liquid, holds it aloft,

says, You must drink this.

So we do.


The spoon, she says,

lick it clean, and our tongues

etch the metallic rim;


I will do as I’m told. But the urge to pour

spoons. A row of them

lines the table. The waitress turns


her dark hair away. Years of feeding,

our mouths unhinge,

honey in the throat, the head tilts back


toward something larger.











Midnight Kitchen


Sleep, sleep is the sound of the clock thinking. The fan blows dust off the dresser, it tickles my nose. I sleep and fall into the slow motion run, the mouth glued shut, a missing tongue. I wake up drooling and wet, rowed from one nightmare and into another. The clock an eerie crooked red. I am not myself tonight. A cat howls in the kitchen—Meow? I could be dead. I could braid ribbons into my hair and fancy myself spring. But it is the night-of-the-dead, not to be confused with the-dead-of-night. In my dream, the winds came up and tossed us all into the sea. I swallowed much water. Belly scraping along the shells till my navel was gone. I was thrown onto shore with a dying stingray. An unnamed girl was missing. We searched for her beneath the sand. Looking for a blond tangle of hair, or seaweed, or hair tangled in seaweed. My fingers press down beneath the sand and feel skin. A soft mushiness that could only be flesh. I am screaming and screaming. Do you hear it? The days slip from me on unhinged wings. Like an open door. I am afraid of being hated. I am afraid of losing things and people. My throat is slit and raw, I can pull my head off its hinge and show you the inner workings of larynx and blood vessel. I offer you my neck to show you your dominance. Here, see the Adam’s apple exposed? I offer you a delicious snack to rival the midnight kitchen.