Teresa Leo
Eating is an Act of Optimism

        —­Kathleen Volk Miller

The inverse is true. Not tonight 
or tomorrow, it’s one 

of the seven or eight kinds 
of self-abuse: the body a standoff— 

midnight and beer is when I think of her,
as almonds and Asiago, 

clementines and wine spread out 
on the floor of her apartment,

no chairs, just pillows 
and talk of the men

we loved who gave us grief. 
More wine and we’d find 

the ninth or tenth kind of abuse
with talk until sunrise,

until the men we loved were gone
or briefly solved, 

all absence and what we could do without
naming, but now she is gone,

unmetaphorically dead, 
let me say it again,

dead, beyond any thought 
she could have of me 

as Corona and cigarettes,
Monterey Jack and the men I still love 

but can no longer tell her about, 
it’s brutal, this wanting to call 

and tell, the eleventh kind of abuse,
no dinner tonight, and yes, 

I still smoke, the twelfth,
the one promise I made to her, 

but too thinly sealed now, 
the way the skin of the clementine

pulls away from a fruit 
that’s too ripe—

no, not tonight,
not tomorrow,

there are promises 
I can’t keep.     

Found In Volume 39, No. 01
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Teresa Leo
About the Author

Teresa Leo is the author of two books of poetry, Bloom in Reverse (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2014) and The Halo Rule (Elixir Press, 2008), winner of the Elixir Press Editors' Prize.

Her work has appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, New Orleans Review, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Painted Bride Quarterly, Xconnect and elsewhere.