A Side of Beef

Christine Guarino

Oh, how you would admire, mother,
the blonde woman heralding mud
huts on a cracked billboard, looming
over cattle whose bones poke out,
and a one-room church, holding up a can
of Coca Cola, smiling, showing her
teeth, off-color pieces of bone
protruding from pink gums. My gums

bleed, my hair is falling out
and the waist of my pants cuts a groove
into my belly. Pebbles jump up, poke
skin like needles as feet hit gravel road,
crunch along in sandals

worn thin. Mother, my African mother
loves to watch me eat. Many, many
kilos! Proud to have her stew devoured,
Miss Anamas, she loves when the
Oshilumbus get fat. She pinches
my flesh with a toothy grin.

Distended bellies look almost like
pregnant ones. Egg shaped hernias
in place of belly button. Malnourished
children surrounded by women whose
bodies are terrifying, large, piles
of flesh wrapped in colorful fabric.
We’ll fatten you up.

Fatten you up good. The shame
that only a mother can bring. Raised
eyebrows and looks diverted away
from a plate of food. Goat meat served
with milk from the mother, my mother’s
milk ran dry long before I was done.


Christine Guarino has been writing poems for as long as she can remember. She holds a BA in English from Saint Anselm College and recently received her MFA in poetry from Lesley University. When not writing and reading poetry, Christine works in fundraising and recruiting for various nonprofit organizations. Born and bred in the Boston area, she currently lives and writes in Somerville, MA.



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