Still Life with Half a Coconut Cake, a Golden Retriever, and The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor & The Worst Peanuts in Town

Jack, today I played fast-and-loose with a bottle 

of Prosecco and a coconut cake, and now, 

an hour later, I’ve got my knees tucked to my chest  

because it feels like someone’s mistaken my head 

for an oyster and is shucking away, like 

someone’s trying to pry open my jaw to find a pearl  

lodged in my trachea. 


And my golden retriever is sunning herself on the back

porch, and she looks regal like a lion, but I won’t 

say that because I will not be a nature poet,  

even though the dog looks regal, looks goddamn 

golden, and deserves all my attention and 

a collection of sonnets.


But, Jack, all I can think of is a conversation we had 

three years ago when you caught me reading Flannery O ’Connor

and asked if it was “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” or 

“Good Country People,” and I said I didn’t know 

because I wasn’t sure which one I was supposed to be reading.  

And you played with my ponytail to get a rise out of me, to make me

laugh, but I just looked down and stayed still to be polite, and 

that ended that.


I think my head is full of bubbles, expanding and popping 

every time I blink, but all I want in the world is your love again, 

that horrible comfortable love that grabs me by the temples 

to keep me company, rips out my tonsils looking for something, 

sews them back in when there’s nothing in my throat

it hasn’t seen before. 


Emily Nason is from Columbia, South Carolina, and is a junior at Kenyon College in Ohio. Her poetry has also appeared in the Kenyon Review.