“The Liver Needs a Rest” by Diane Payne

After crawling to the bathroom
and watching red rice
then chicken
then the flushing

no one notices.

I remember second grade
informing the class everything
Chuck ate for breakfast.  Particle
by  particle, identifying lunch,
supper, breakfast. Up Chuck Chuck.

So damn funny, I spent one more day
in the hallway listening outside
the room, Then the principal’s
heels clicking, wanting to know
what I did this time.

Did it matter?

My daughter and I are spending the night with friends,
and I am the guest from Hell
hoping they hear nothing.
The husband sees me race to the bathroom
short coat pulled over naked body.
He must know what is going on,
and coming up.

Their fancy Bombay gin.
His rotisserie chicken.

Later I wake to a doctor
pressing hands on my liver,
glaring, saying “You need to give
your liver a rest.”

Just like that, I knew everyone heard,
remembering my own father crouched above the can,
drunken accidents, endless visits to jail,
paychecks purchasing endless drinks
but not one box of food,
heads shaking when I announce my stomach hurts
before crawling into bed, avoiding
the floating Scrabble tiles.

The liver needs a rest.



Diane Payne lives in a dry town in the Delta.  Her poems have been published in Circle, Maverick, Snow Monkey, Hip Mama, Literary Mama, Story House Quarterly, The Concrete Wolf, and numerous other magazines.


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