Nicole Callihan

Warming meat for my husband, Anne,

and you with your birds, your grace,
and disgrace, your streets of Mercy,
your talking to God, your la de da;
how, when I was sixteen, I snuck 
from the library with you, smoked
under so many trees, my mother
and stepfather concerned I’d sink
into the earth, throw myself 
in front of a train, and haven’t I, 
this cold meat, cooked three days ago, 
tupperwared, how I’ve sliced 
and peppered it, combed your letters,
imagined you were the one who stopped
for the ponies, Anne—were you?—
and I’ve been meaning to forgive you,
like how surely I’ll want others
to forgive me. What is unforgivable?
What does it matter once we’re dead?
This meat from the cow bought
with cash from the butcher the night
it rained, the night before the night
I drank too much but drank plenty
anyway. To rinse the blood, cut off
the fat, heat the pan, hear the sizzle,
Anne, and then not eat it in one sitting.
I’d like to be in your Ford drinking
martinis with you. The coroner said,
it was either suicide or natural causes.
What’s natural? This stone plate
to rest the meat to microwave
for my husband, Anne. Jean said,
living was the brave thing, but didn’t
she live in dreams? This endeavor.
The steam. The waiting for the beeping.
I’m hungry, too, and haunted.
Will slice it into bite-sized chunks,
call for him, give what’s left to the dog.


Nicole Callihan writes poems and stories. Her books include SuperLoop and the poetry chapbooks: A Study in Spring (with Zoë Ryder White, 2015); The Deeply Flawed Human (2016); Downtown (2017); Aging (2018); and ELSEWHERE (with Zoë Ryder White, 2020). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Tin House, Kenyon Review, Conduit, The American Poetry Review, and as a Poem-a-Day selection from the Academy of American Poets. Her novella, The Couples, was published by Mason Jar Press in summer 2019. Find her at