My therapist tells me that the stomach
holds most of our feelings. She doesn’t mean
what goes into it, but still I start to dream up
a feast of joy inside my gut. Spinach,
artichokes, oranges slowly peeled in the morning,
lavender tea and honey, cardamom. My list grows
while she leads me through a breathing exercise.
She says Picture a place where you feel calm,
and I’m walking down the grocery aisle, past the milk,
pulling a pack of probiotic yogurt off the shelf.
She looks like she eats green smoothies and citrus,
and I think of the lemons molding in my fridge,
turning white and mushy, caving in gently around
one particularly soft crater. What have I fed myself
lately? Olives and oily fish, burnt toast, nervousness,
soup. I ate octopus once at a Greek restaurant
in New York where I drank too much wine
and had to unbutton my jeans after my stomach
swelled over them. My therapist and I don’t talk
about my body, except in the sense
that I live in it. Years ago, I ate magic mushrooms
on an empty stomach and three hours later I knew
I was going to die. Even after I didn’t, I wasn’t
convinced—thought it was only a matter of time.
I didn’t eat for days, afraid I had damaged something deep
inside of me. This, too, I have never told her—
not about the mushrooms, or driving six hours
that week to see my parents because I wanted, secretly,
to say goodbye. Maybe this is what she means
about the stomach. That it holds only
what it’s capable of, and refuses the rest.