by Ruby Marguerite |
I buy a crab-stuffed pretzel after therapy. A treat after an hour of crying. I don’t know the name of the man who runs the pretzel store, but he remembers everything about me. He asks how the job hunt is going. I give him a noncommittal answer. This was the question I was fearing, a reminder of failure. But he doesn’t know that, he wants only to make idle conversation while the pretzels cook, rolling slowly through the oven on their metal racks.
In my room, I tear open the cavity that he’s filled with crab. I dig into it with the other bready limbs I’ve ripped off in an animalistic haze, scooping out the crab dip methodically. My ancestors ate food like this. Tearing bread, fruit, meat, open. This is the ritual, sitting in my two-bedroom apartment, fighting off the apex predator—my cat—who wants to taste the seafood. Eventually, I submit and give her a piece, and in this way too, we are both connected to our ancestors. The ritual of sharing the spoils of the hunt.
I am the creature form of ancient souls. I can taste the bloodshed of loss, victory, and food. This is a gift, to be handed a crab dip pretzel in exchange for four pieces of green paper. It is a gift to make conversation with the man who crafts it.
Yet we are both so removed from our food, from our conversation.
I wish to cut into something. I wish to crush the crab with a heavy stone as it scuttles sideways away from me. To feel the grit and shards and juice and blood. To taste the stone and sinew.
Growing up, my family was vegan. I never found it strange when I was small. I never knew the taste of meat, dairy, egg. I’ve heard you can’t miss what you’ve never had.
Yet still, I loved watching my mother prepare a pomegranate. She would plunge it into our mottled stone bowl—the one with the cracks—filled with water. I watched as bubbles rose from the submerged fruit, spilling out in columns. She tore the thing apart with her fingers, familiar and soft to me, and the cracking red skin echoed in our chipped kitchen.
When she’d finished, she’d fill little teacups with seeds so red I would’ve thought she named them after me. And I would take the little cups and methodically pick out one seed at a time. Tearing the juicy flesh off the hard white bone with my front teeth. Seeing myself a wolf, deep in the woods up the mountain where they used to live, finally, finally eating after a long hunt.
And lastly, I would crush the pomegranate bone between my molars. Savoring the feel of the shatter. Praising the animal inside me.
| Ruby Marguerite is, and always has been, a lover of stories. She is a poet and nonfiction writer whose work focuses on family, heritage, and the meaning of being human.