Cupids Health

The Thief at the 8th Street Bodega [by Aspen Matis]


Aspen Matis

Shortly after my husband disappeared into a funeral 
I began to shoplift prepared foods from salad bars.
Each morning, I woke in the mermaid bra
I’d worn under my wedding gown,
with consequence: I became a prisoner
of bad rituals.

There are storms in fall
in New York state,
quick darkness in the middle of the day
in the stares of friends.

Humiliation 
is a hot orange color I see daily
like a gutter along a sidewalk, 
forever clogged with the muck of summer’s leaves. 
And lightning is temporary,
but the fire that raids
the fruit from trees
turns the world black for a generation,
when the sudden electricity is electrosurgery, 
removing all green lettuce from the heart.
Plums: also gone.

I wanted the world
to take care of me;
stealing from anonymous crates,
I wanted to win back
tangible dreams, too imprecisely
conjuring my lost husband.
Or his shade of violet rage, mute beige 
apathy, death in good health.
What is loss’s color?

maybe silver, like a dream I keep
or from a screen—
that old film
where a girl followed
a boy to New York.

At a bodega on 8th,
a couple is touching.
He kisses her cheek
how sweetly he buys her
milk and a can of golden peaches.
I see it, vividly. I pick a soft pear 
from the black crate
and strut
out onto the sunlit bluish
grey sidewalk like
I am invisible.
Like the sun is night.

I can’t go on.
I place the pear on the concrete 
and begin to walk again.
This gutter is too straight
and it is daytime.

Aspen Matis is the author of Your Blue Is Not My Blue: A Missing Person Memoir (Little A, June 2020). Called “fearless…A beautifully written story of inspiration, courage, and ultimate transformation” by Booklist, the book was a #1 Amazon bestseller in memoirs. Author Deepak Chopra said the memoir “will open the door to empathy, compassion, and healing.” Novelist Aimee Bender called Your Blue Is Not My Blue “gorgeous…a gripping read that wrestles honestly and sensitively with the ways we connect and the ways we miss one another.”

Matis’s short-form writing has been published in The New York TimesThe AtlanticTin HousePsychology TodaySalonBloomberg, and Marie Claire. Her first book, the critically acclaimed memoir Girl in the Woods, was published by HarperCollins in 2015. Called “a powerful read” by O, The Oprah Magazine, the book made The Guardian‘s annual top 50 list. The New York Times named Matis “a hero.”

Click here to read interviews of poets conducted by Aspen Matis for the Best American Poetry blog.





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