Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of
Volume 8, Number 1
Copyright © 2013
by Leah Browning, Editor.
All future rights to
in the Apple Valley
Review are retained by
the individual authors
by Sharlene Teo
Days eating days. Calendar drain. I leave my job and my boyfriend
leaves me. He tells me I am too bloody-minded. I picture my brain:
supermarket steak. Whole days I cannot shed
my bed. Finally, I head to the corner shop to get some wine. Two bottles
for £12.99. I check my phone, roll my eyes to the floor. I don’t look
and hate to learn. I get slapped by a branch. A small bruise arrives
on my face, a vessel-keen ache mapped out in red. I leave it
uncovered, a dish full of flies. What a dish, I tell the dusty mirror,
I tell my sharp, chipped tooth. My mother sends me a postcard
with a Christian dove, ostensibly flying to Jesus. It gets better,
the postcard says. I hate the font.
So it gets better, they say. Like the monster in the movie
who turns out to be vegetarian, foreign to menace,
a modest, touchable thing reconciling during the end minutes
with the motley villagers, the best supporting actors, the buildings
made of clay. I switch off before they start singing or
something equally embarrassing for all involved; I’m including
you, Epiphany Lighting assistant, and you, gag prop man,
holding out an offending branch.
I once knew a girl who was allergic to shame. She would turn bright red
and change the subject. Maybe that’s everyone; let’s start again.
I once knew a girl who was allergic to makeup. It makes my eyes burn
and my skin flake off, she said. We were only eight. I wonder where she is
right now, peeling something delicious, or nodding on a bus—her face phased out
of focus, a blank mug on the edge of a counter, tempting fate.
Sharlene Teo is completing a Prose Fiction MA at the University of
East Anglia in Norwich, United Kingdom. Her poetry has appeared in
publications such as Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Softblow, Quarterly
Literary Review Singapore, and the Ballard Street Poetry Journal.
She is currently working on her first novel, and a selection of her writing
can be found at http://strangelikeness.tumblr.com/portfolio/.
On “Cannibal Pie”:
I was interested in writing a semi-humorous poem about
hopelessness and gnawing solipsism. I had the image in my mind
of a vegetarian monster for a long time and it found its way into
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