Diary of Consumption • Christine Higgins

In the beginning
there’s a genuine fullness.
My grandmother
feeds me shrimp cocktail for lunch
and, after a good visit to the dentist,
ravioli with red wine.
But away from her loving gaze,
I turn ravenous.
There’s a recklessness to my eating:
frozen milky ways from the pharmacy,
chocolate egg creams from the soda fountain,
Slim Jims and barbecue chips from the deli.

I am only twelve when my depressed mother
charges me with going to the laundromat.
Money in hand, I help myself
to the riches of the shopping strip.
It has to be salty, soaked in vinegar,
thick and creamy, cold and sweet,
spicy and oozing.
The other women take pity on me,
fold my brother’s clothes,
match my father’s socks.
I look away, watch the TV on the wall,
sucking on a five cent pickle.
Inside, I am bone thin and tired.


Christine Higgins, was a McDowell Colony Fellow, and graduated from the Writing Seminars, Johns Hopkins University. She is also the recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council Award. Her poems have appeared in several journals including Pequod, Lullwater Review, Eleventh Muse and America.