Wendy Rainey


In the online photo
the heart-shaped box of chocolates
is lined in blood-red velvet,
tied with a white satin bow.
Each confection,
handcrafted by a Belgian chocolatier,
is resting on its own little golden throne.
I spared no expense for Mom.
But when it came time to input the shipping address
I accidentally typed my own.

The box arrived at my doorstep
on a sweltering day.
I put it in the fridge to keep it fresh
until I could make the drive to Mom’s house.
But as the day wore on
I started to the think about how delicious
one of those imported sweets would taste.
My teeth biting into a nougat
encased in a thin layer of cold dark chocolate.

I snatched the box,
untied the bow,
ripped the paper,
and shoved a hazelnut into my mouth.
It was earthy like the roots of a tree.
The bitter-sweet undertones
made me want to dig in the dirt
until I found something clean.
Dig in the filth
until I found a place in my bones
that felt like home.

I knew it was a sacrilege to eat Mom’s chocolates.
I went ahead and grabbed another piece anyway.
The vanilla cream was soothing
like Mother’s milk,
and I was cradled in her arms again,
her heartbeat in my ear,
the warmth of her body,
the dark curtain
of her long hair
falling around me
like night.

Ooze seeped from a crack
in the chocolate,
as I bit into one of the Cherry Liqueurs.
I licked the dripping placenta,
felt something swelling in my belly,
feeding on me,
and I wondered
what animal was growing inside of me.

What I savored most
was the bitterness of the dark chocolate.
I licked it like a mother cat
licks her kittens.
And in the absence of sweetness
I saw my Mom for the first time,
a woman cornered,
and discarded by her young.

I thought about the day
I found her on her knees in the kitchen, screaming,
I can’t do it anymore.
I can’t do it.
I can’t.
I got down on the floor
to help her pick up the cans of Del Monte peaches
she had knocked down
when she turned on me,
yanking me by the sweater,
her mouth contorted in disgust,
I hate you.
I hate the way you look.
I hate the way you sound.
I hate the way you drain me
of every last ounce of energy.
I hate every goddamn thing about you.

I grabbed my mother’s box of designer chocolates,
sat on the kitchen floor,
gorging on the remains.


Wendy Rainey is the author of two books: Hollywood Church: Short Stories and Poems and Girl On The Highway. She is a contributing poetry editor on Chiron Review. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in Nerve Cowboy, Trailer Park Quarterly, Misfit Magazine, Red Fez and beyond. She studied poetry with Jack Grapes in Los Angeles and creative writing with Gerald Locklin at California State University, Long Beach.


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