Your Inheritance
–for my daughter Madelyn

Inheriting my affinity for books and blues
music I guess wasn’t in the cards.
I didn’t have any interest in poetry
either until junior year, so you still have time.
Since your mother can’t even draw
stick figures, your artistic ability
definitely did not come from her.
But I always hoped you might avoid
the obsession with weight my mother
passed down, especially considering the dark
place it put me in around your age.

Watching you at the restaurant
wipe barbeque sauce off your chicken
reminded me of when I used to do
the same thing to avoid a few extra calories.
I would nibble off only a couple bites
and convince myself I was satisfied.
Of course I was always hungry.
It was the control I craved, though,
the thrill of registering a pound
fewer than the day before.
I paced like you, but without the FitBit,
and scoured your grandmother’s cookbooks
for suitable meals like you do the internet.

You seem to be adhering to the nutritionist’s
prescription. Hopefully it won’t be long
before the scale’s needle points to a number
above room temperature and we can again banish
the word “anorexia” from our vocabularies.

Milk, Eggs, & Bread

The predicted nor'easter has for a day trumped
the candidates and another shooting.  
Network ratings soar when it's likely a storm
will clobber financial sectors and instigate
disaster. Our attention must now turn
to supermarkets with panic lines drawn
all the way back to deli counters, 
desperate families preparing to weather
apocalypse on just milk, eggs, and bread.

If I too were concerned about my own potential
frigid demise, I should think I'd prefer to indulge
a bit more. After all, how long can one subsist
in darkness on French toast? It's the perfect 
opportunity to rekindle that old flame 
so close to Valentine's Day.  

If I had a fireplace, I'd spread a blanket
before its crackling coals, chill champagne
in the snow, and wait for her to ascend
the basement stairs brushing off the cold.
We'd live on the larder on which I spent 
a week's wages and on the pentameter 
bards memorialized across countless ages.
If The End came crashing in, we'd offer up
our extravagance, and perhaps he'd stay awhile
before returning to menace the Eastern seaboard.
Enough of the old bubbly, he might teeter off
into the lonely Atlantic like a groggy sailor,
confounding experts.  

Since I'm not really concerned, though,
I ought to at least hope the route to Try-n-Save
is dug out day after tomorrow when I can have
the whole place to myself before all hell breaks loose. 

About the author:

Ted Millar teaches English at Mahopac High School in New York. His poetry, flash fiction, and essays have appeared in many publications, including English Journal, 50 Word Stories, Third Wednesday, Caesura, Cactus Heart, Aji, and Warp 10. He lives in the apple and wine country of New York’s Hudson Valley with his wife and two children.

Feature image by Luna Wang on Unsplash