I didn’t know I was hungry.
I liked peanut butter sandwiches.
Rice was good, with Kool-Aid.
So, everything was the same.
I didn’t understand any differently.
My father was a poor law student,
my mom working at the Sizzler.
There wasn’t enough money
to spread through a month.
What kept us fed, my mom said later,
was the shrimp my uncle brought,
covered in ice, in a red cooler.
I don’t think we can repay him,
despite our differences in opinions.
He was a shrimper on the coast,
as the seafood started to give out
in the Gulf, as he settled down,
and the food he provided me
would later allow me to get seasick,
fearful of falling off any boat,
unable to swim like a shrimp.
Donald Illich (Montgomery County, MD) has published poetry in journals such as Poet Lore, The Iowa Review, and Map Literary. He recently published a book, Chance Bodies (The Word Works, 2018).
These poems were recognized at the 2019 WFD Poetry Competition