Not By Bread Alone

There’s a trick to it.

Nickel, steel, resin, and a sharp point. Keratin, cotton, hair oil, and perfume. Grave dust, copper, blood. The hunger has come back, and worse than ever before. Colleen is a wild fire, drinking bleach, eating hair, swallowing soap, choking down chalk. Live frogs and pool balls. Her jaws crack and fracture around the succulence of a jade plant, crassula ovata, plant, roots, pot and all, the thick well-practiced muscles of her throat shattering it, tamping it down.

She dreams of food without desire. Takes her sheets apart and slurps them in, cotton, linen, skin flakes, sweat, blood, unguent and jism, a fragrant revelation of six months of laundry and strangers. The hammer of the sun has pounded all color from the walls, from the paintings, from the carpet. She knows to the second how long that takes, inescapably.

Her broken jaws and shredded tongue are canny, canny. Sensitive as fingers, wise as knives they dissect, distend, break apart; she boils it all to atoms in her acid and counts the neutrons.

There’s a trick to it, or so the devil told her: to never think of it. Colleen, alas, thinks of nothing else, and her traitor hands lift something new to her infidel lips.