Robert Fillman




On date night my wife must choose

between love and food because
her body will not allow
her both, so I ask her to
starve herself in one way so

I can be satisfied in
another. Last night I grew
frustrated by her illness,
selfishly imagining

how every spoonful to her
lips was a cold betrayal,
willingness to twist with pain
on the couch and not with me,

heating pad strapped to her gut,
the nausea setting in,
all color drained from her face,
as if each little swallow

were another nail punching
through the white skin of her breast.
Now I'm left wondering if
my depravity caused this

crucifixion, how all she
craved was a scoop of ice cream
from the cafe down the street,
how I will writhe in hell,

be made to atone for these
wicked thoughts, no saint to save
me, no matter how badly
I hunger for forgiveness. 


Learning to Listen

I remind both kids to be
extra good today, insist
their mother doesn't feel well,
that she has to stay in bed—
and hate myself for it.

            Kids
should be able to be kids.
But when my son suddenly
leaps onto the couch and makes
the springs cheep and squeak I snap,
ask why he never listens,
threaten to send him to his
room alone if he doesn't
stop, my voice breaking apart
when I notice the redness
of his cheeks, the tears that will 
follow.

             Then I consider  
how only moments before
the three of us were huddled
by the window watching four
goldfinches peck at feeders
on our porch, how my daughter
said they were a family
flitting about, their frank chirps
a break from the hard silence. 



Robert Fillman is the author of the chapbook November Weather Spell (Main Street Rag, 2019). His poems have appeared in The Hollins Critic, Poetry East, Sugar House Review, Tar River Poetry, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and others. Fillman earned a Ph.D. in English from Lehigh University and is an Assistant Professor at Kutztown University.   








                                    

 

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