Dreams of Takeout

We work to earn, but Hal e Ward wonders what it’s costing us. 

Writing by Hal e Ward
Art by Charlie Cole

Domesticated Honey Dreams of Takeout

I have put polish to the silver, 

conditioned each piece 

Have pressed the napkins

white with white embroidered

seashells, have mended with 

needle thread and thimble

the Battenberg tablecloth.

I’ve passed endless solitary nights 

with the hot iron, the steam bottle.

wind-ravaged branches beating

a song for me on the window:

Launder, Starch, Launder, Starch

The chemicals that prickle the fine hair

in my nose haunt my sleep

For now I will put from my mind

what they have wreaked in me

Dreams of inky kitchen sink water 

rich opalescent suds like clotted cream 

Weary and cankled from the hours

of preparation, I uncork the drain plug

turn loose this poison vat to contaminate

some other young woman’s home

Where hands should emerge: 

pulpy corroded stubs, sloughing

weepy waterlogged bits, in the anemic pink

of peonies, down the disposal

—or worse—

I have laid and relaid my table in all its finery

scoured the bloodstains from all the linens

plucked old gristle from the tines. Look how shiny

the Limoges, lovely little flecks of gold 

for service à la russe, the wicks trimmed

the wine capsule scored, and the first guest

buzzes up My eyes catch on that ugly 

blackened portal in the corner 

from which no light comes, nor heat, nor smell

and I realize I forgot to cook. 

About the Author

Hal e. Ward dreams of one day becoming so obsolete that when someone asks have you been living under a rock, they can stick out their forked tongue and reply honestly: yessssssssss

About the Artist

Charlie Cole is the product of a town no one has ever heard of which, of course, means she gravitated toward creating stories to match her dreams of escape. When she is not writing she can be found vomiting out pop culture diatribes and trying to make friends with the bats in the belfry of her mind. Proud advocate for mental health, queer identity, and neurodivergency.

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