Teaching a twelve-year-old to swallow a pill is tedious.
“It’s okay. Pretend it’s a bit of meat, and swallow it down with water.”
Because that’s what my mother told me.
Now, I’m the expert.
But it’s not meat is it? And, I’m no expert.
It’s an unknown.
But I’ll connect it to a known and
Pretend it’s okay because it is, and
As long as someone’s pretending for us
We don’t have to use as much imagination for ourselves.
But there’s a danger in that too,
When it’s not okay, but
Everyone keeps pretending,
“It’s meat. Swallow it down.”
Waiting in line, I fold my now-fulfilled grocery list
Into small squares – absent-mindedly creasing, un-creasing, re-creasing,
People-watching from behind my mask
(Both the figurative and the literal one).
The couple in front of me has a cart full of
Produce and baguettes, fresh flowers.
They pay in cash – creased, un-creased from
A boy with his mother
Points out a Spider Man balloon.
They make them square now. Did you know?
Balloons that is, not superheroes.
Technically, they’re cubes, I suppose –
Eight-pointed helium pillows.
My turn, now.
The cashier wipes sweat from his brow,
Worries over how to fit three over-full bags
Into the rectangular cart.
I reach out to try and help him –
Stop myself before getting too close.
The grocery store
Is a cultural microcosm,
This is the shape we’re in.
Filling the Void With Emptiness
I know only one thing, and that is nothing. –Socrates
When nothing is sacred,
I’m fourteen, and my friend is willingly
Losing her virginity in the seat of an
El Camino at the drive-in theatre.
I had tried to explain sacredness, but it didn’t take.
I’d find another ride home,
With two boys who drove too fast
On dirt roads. They were trying to show off, while
I tried to play cool – but silently prayed for my life.
See, life was still sacred, to me.
When everything is sacred,
I’m nineteen, and unable to will myself to
Science class. What’s the point? Because
If everything’s sacred, then an empty mind’s
As valuable as a full one.
I had had enough philosophy classes
To figure that out.
But I hadn’t had enough life to
Know that nothing and everything are
Two tenuous beings who only exist together.
When sacredness is enough
I can hold it in my hand, my heart is
Fulfilled by this one thing:
The awareness of a vast potential
Emptiness of reality.
Samantha L. Terrell is an American poet whose work can be found in many fine publications such as: Dissident Voice, Dove Tales by Writing for Peace, the Ebola chapbook (West Chester University, PA), Fevers of the Mind, In Parentheses, Lucky Jefferson, Nine Cloud Journal, Peeking Cat Poetry, Poetry Quarterly and others. Her debut collection Vision, and Other Things We Hide From is due out from Potter's Grove Press in March 2021. Samantha and her family reside in Upstate New York, where they enjoy kayaking on still waters.