the pediatric psychiatrist gives me a cautionary tale

it got stuck halfway down, he said. her throat was a fist
that snatched and held, a hornet jar with baited trap:
gelatin melt, powder release. and then the burning began.

on the shelf lived a family of soft toys. on the walls lived
sailboats and the sunlight that consumed them, bleach-white
anchors dropped to the parking lot where my mother’s car

ticked over in the heat, clicking its tongue against the roof
of its cage. i was hardly listening anymore. i was thinking
about the drug in her throat, gobbling up the flesh, digging

and digging its own white hole: a fruit i pushed my thumb
inside. a hornet paused at the mouth of the jar, so close
to sweetness it quivered and yearned. how would i manage,

year after year? the body peeled itself raw in consumption,
full to the brim with wasps gone still. a golden river
of perfect silence, worth the risk, worth any dark thing.


Maria Zoccola is a queer Southern writer with deep roots in the Mississippi Delta. She has writing degrees from Emory University and Falmouth University. Her work has previously appeared or is forthcoming in Ploughshares, Kenyon Review, The Iowa Review, The Cincinnati Review, and elsewhere.