Evangeline Sanders is a poet, writer, and college student living in Charleston, South Carolina. Her debut poetry collection, Beneath the Fleeting Sky (2021), is a coming-of-age memoir that explores faith, love, mental illness, and loss of innocence. An “adventurous and vulnerable writer”, Evangeline enjoys writing poetry that captures the colors and consistencies of day-to-day living. She has been published in Eunoia Review, Boston Literary Magazine, and other national magazines. When she isn’t writing, Evangeline loves exploring her city and snuggling with her cat.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Evangeline Sanders and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Milk-Wakes and Coffee Beans (A Lament)
I popped off the plastic lid and dipped my
tongue into the bath of swirling black specks
(crushed coffee beans, clumped around the
rim like sprinkles of pepper), milk-wakes
and streaks of hazelnut cream. The taste was
sour, acidic. I crushed the creamer cup in my
fist and tossed it into the trashcan as I stepped
onto the street. It was an hour and-a-half
before statistics class, so I sat on the bench
by the gutter and hugged my backpack to
my chest. It was raining, my head was heavy,
the students were brushing past with their
coffee cups and chemistry textbooks, snapping
twigs and crunching leaves in their wakes.
I pulled out my laptop and picked at the crumbs
that had dropped from my lips into the keyboard
cracks. My hand was shaking and my heart was
heaving as I blinked into the empty coffee cup,
but I felt awake, awake and exhausted and filled
with something like life that chewed at the lining
of my stomach.
A Tentative Diagnosis at 2:30 A.M.: Stomach Bug
I recall the stench of tomatoes and stomach
acid, a sloppy hiccup, bubblegum Pepto-Bismol
in a spoon by the bathroom sink. Crumpled
bread crusts on a paper plate, sweat stains
and a soggy tank top, streaks of Clorox on
the brass doorknob. I crouched on the cold
tile, clenching my belly, breathing in, out, in,
out. Please let this pass. Oh God, please let
this pass. The swell of food in the esophagus,
the twisting and squelching of the intestines—
She pinned back my hair with her clip and
pushed me the wooden bowl (there was a ring
of orange dish soap on the rim). Her hand
touched my trembling shoulders, tapping
the muscles with firm fingertips, stroking
and smoothing the skin. The butterfly nightlight
was spinning and color-spewing—soupy
red splashes of light, rippling on the ceiling
with the shadows and cut-out constellations.
She was already running the bathwater and
pouring a glass of Sprite in the kitchen. I could
hear the rattle of the refrigerator drawer and
the hollow clink of pickle jars and soda cans.
She ushered me to the bathtub and I sank into
the steaming water, watching it swirl around
my belly, swish and spill over the porcelain
rim. Saltines and Sprite, a thermometer, a
blue knit blanket, Tuesday morning cartoons.
There was a beauty, a yearning, even in those
moments, with her hand tucked into mine
and her flowered bedspread tugged up to
Jacqueline Jules is the author of Manna in the Morning (Kelsay Books, 2021) and Itzhak Perlman’s Broken String, 2016 winner of the Helen Kay Chapbook Prize by Evening Street Press. Her work has appeared in over 100 publications including The Paterson Literary Review, Potomac Review, and Imitation Fruit. She is also the author of 50 books for young readers, including Tag Your Dreams: Poems of Play and Persistence (Albert Whitman, 2020) She lives in Arlington, Virginia. Visit her online at www.jacquelinejules.com
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Jacqueline Jules and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
A Less Loving Man
You may not think I notice
your quick “yes”
when asked to mail a letter
or pick up milk.
How you make the bed
every single morning.
How you don’t ridicule
my worries but Google questions,
leaning over to share your screen
so we can read together.
A less loving man
might be less patient
when I go downstairs
to check the stove
one more time before bed.
A less loving man
might leave the toilet seat up
or take the last chocolate.
Small things I treasure
because I remember
how large they felt
in a prior life
with a less