“Fever Dream” by Rebecca M Ross

Rona piles rice from path to porch

like snowdrifts sprinkled with

crayon colored carrots, peas, corn–

until the guardrail disappears

under an ever-growing mountain

 of cooked rice.

I steal furtive glances

at my neighbor’s driveway

now covered with sticky grains 

multiplying exponentially, 

at first cooked, now a raw storm of bone dry bits.

Rona keeps scooping, dumping 

until everything is buried in white, 

white on rice, rice on white, 

like her platinum hair,

her compulsive arrogance, 

her steely lack of compassion, 

her dead eyes, and smirking lips 

married to our suffering

God help us, we are drowning! 

someone yells, 

but I know there is no god to save us.

Rona mutes their screams with a glance, 

seals their fate with a scoop.:

A ringing phone,

A wrong number

A woman’s frantic screams,

I’m not a doctor, I say

I’m scared, she says 

Go to the hospital, keep trying,

Don’t give up, I say, distracted by

the shifting shush of grains slipping,

the incessant gathering, pouring.

Rona listens 

to what isn’t said,

hears what she wants while

I can no longer see my now-buried street, 

the pavement alive with rice flowing

under foot, under tires

sidewalks awash in sustenance wasted,

defiled.

There is too much to count: 

too many cups, too many pounds.

I think of John Steinbeck 

of fruit rotting on trees

of food wasted and people starving

of able-bodied people begging for work,

of grains of rice piling, piling

as Rona buries us all.


Rebecca M. Ross is a writer, educator, and avid hiker and backpacker currently living in New York’s Hudson Valley. Her writing has been published in Streetcake Magazine, Whimsical Poet, The Westchester Review, Soul-Lit, and Peeking Cat. She also has poetry forthcoming or published in Uppagus. Rebecca often longs for her ancestral homeland of Brooklyn where her weirdness blends in better. Her favorite bands are Phish and Ween.

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