Sweet and Centered: Poetry by Anna Ter-Yegishyan

“Bowlful”

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Crimson, cool, crescent: I stare at the bowl. Not into it, but at it. The bowl isn’t fishing for compliments, but I need to characterize it to peacefully dismantle its inanimateness. What it needs is unanimity.

 

The bowl waits to be filled. She calls it a womb for fruits and fingers. A thing to be used and stowed. I like to think of it as a place for me to put my feelings down, since you are taught never to put them in a person.

 

The sun, with its sensitive glare, comes through the window. The bowl gleams. She shows me, this is how you wash a bowl: with the yellow side of the sponge in a clockwise motion.

 

That is how you watch a bowl: wistfully.

 

You hold my tits when I’m on top, each of them a varying sized bowl.

 

I listen to the sound of water running in a bowl: sweet and centered. Then the sound of a bowl flushing: a violent howl in search of a vocal conquest.

 

I don’t hear your call because I’m lying on a beach chair in the grass outside. I’m in a purple bikini. My headphones are on; I’m listening to Otis Redding: Shake it like a bowl of soup.

 

I look at my face in the bowl: inconspicuous and contextless. Wanting to be seen, but not too obviously. I wear the bowl as a metal screen.

 

After you struggle with the lock, I go back to watching Sex and the City. The next day, I wash my eyes in the bowl. Not long after the water shuts off, the bowl is empty again.

 

At times my own body reminds me of a bowl. A vessel too small to contain me all at once. It’s disheartening, this realization: I am always trying to make ends meet.

 

I’m spinning a globe with my index finger when the intrusive thought comes to me: I picture the tangible satisfaction of removing the globe from its stand, gripping it between my hands, and splitting it apart in two halves. What is left in its place are two bowls. The hemispheres no longer make sense in this context.

 

The bowl is something I can enjoy when I prefer not to calculate the consequences of my decisions.

 

I later share my strange fantasy involving the globe with him. I ask him if he thinks globes are empty inside. He shakes his head, perhaps hiding a smile, perhaps entirely unamused. I can’t tell by the dimness between us.

 

The Dust Bowl lasted for nearly a decade, fueling an exponential absence of land and food. It’s important to know when a bowl encases you for a prolonged period and how to pull yourself from under it to avoid becoming hollow.

 

I think it’s funny how you broke our sink in the fall. I think it’s funny how we flush some memories down in a way that they can never rise.

 

There’s much more involved than just a reflective arc. It makes you bend backwards for it. Finally, it leaves you.

 

She offers it to me, wide and bursting with greens. It falls into the angle of my elbows easily. I carry it to the table where the guests are waiting. It has probably heard me cry before.

 

And if I could characterize heartbreak, it would be that night we bowled feverishly: you knocked down every pin on your turn.

 

Sometimes I think about you when I’m sitting on a bowl.

 

I would like to collapse into its space and occupy it. Envelope me, I would tell it.

 

I stack the smaller bowls in the larger bowls. This kind of collectiveness and belonging, I am always after it.

 

The women in the Mongolian Bowl Dance seem to have it. There are many of them, graceful, tall, with expanded arms. One woman leans too far forward and the bowl on top of her head drops. This shocks me, as I watch through a screen. What shocks me more is the resurgence of a second bowl. A safety net bowl, a bowl for in case.

 

Your arm, curved like the bottom of a bowl, allowing me the perfect space to come in.

 

There are not enough bowls that come out of cupboards without anything to offer anyone.

 

A woman who owns nothing is like a bowl floating atop the ocean, her only view the horizon.


Anna completed her undergraduate career at UCLA with an English B.A. She’s interested in the various details and connections that writing helps to unfold. Her work has been featured in Foliate Oak Literary Magazine and UCLA’s Westwind.


Photo Credit (c) Geerd-Olaf Freyer


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