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It was a hard day

Gabriel Carter

I’m finding my plate demands my full attention. I’m consuming new pieces of information. I haven’t tasted enough of the flavors yet to call them out by name, but they feel slightly painful on my tongue. I continue to roll the words over before I say them out loud even though they scratch the roof of my mouth and light up fresh taste buds. Do I build up a tolerance or do I burn away? The area of sensation, will it heal tomorrow or stay vacant — will it remain barren for years to come?

Will we forget the taste and shape of things over generations? If we don’t write it, will anyone remember our names? If I’m too passionate, and you’re not quite ready to listen, do I burn the eardrums and over time become muted? Am I screaming or is this my inside voice? When I whisper, does the flavor come across? Is it well-seasoned?

It was a hard one, this season, this month, and the last three. Empty and burning up like not eating enough with a fever, while there’s too much on my plate but barely anything in the cup.

I’m a fool too. I keep on chewing one mouthful more. I’ve swallowed enough. I roll the syllables around and stretch them out in my mouth like cotton. I’ll explode if I consume any more. If I swallow I might just vomit conscious thoughts. I do not wish to force these words back down my throat—too much strain on my heart and my vocal cords. Caution my tongue; it’s burning hot.

If I open my mouth, will the flavors remain, hung in the air, poised next to molecules that prefer it colder? Will others seize up against the billowing gray smoke and biting embers rising from inside my stomach? Cool down my words, if you can catch them coming, but they arrive at the speed of light years and revelations. Perhaps the flavors could be tasteful if you ever did decide to savor them, if you ever did get a chance to have an interesting conversation on a hard day, taste it first after grace.

I do not feel like eating anymore. I’ll keep my words simmering on low like the lighting in the living room near the bookshelf with the handwritten notes. Recipes of our love, written in cinnamon, crushed red pepper, chili powder, and paprika; a mouthful, a good meal bursting with flavor. Do you mind if next time we talk over pancakes? My personal preference is fresh blueberries, warm salted butter, and maple syrup. I’ll keep my tone low and sweet like hand holding in libraries and the soft orange glow of the Edison bulb in my favorite corner—the one with the chair next to the window where you rested your head on my shoulder and we read each other poems and observations from a hard day alone without sugar, lavender, honey, and thyme.

Gabriel Carter is a non-binary Baltimore-based writer, who delves into themes of grief and growth through raw, introspective prose. Their work captures the intricacies of navigating life's challenges. With a passion for exploring human emotions, Gabriel's writings offer a unique perspective on the journey of self-discovery.

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