Joint Winner of The Letter Review Prize for Poetry
Gut and Psychology Syndrome, Gaps Intro Diet Cookbook, The Good Gut Diet, and so on.
I plunge into the flora and fauna of my stomach, cannot get the ocean floor out of my mind
when studying diagrams on villi, microvilli, enterocytes—tubes and little waving hairs
and cells that can make me well or sick depending on how I nourish them. Are there starfish,
I wonder, spinning aimlessly in the depths of me, wondering how they got there?
If so, is their longing for the bright brine of the sea, their lost meals of mollusks and sand-dollars
making me sad, too? Gut, is—unsurprisingly—an Old English word, much like pig and house,
the tongue making a little cut to the chase. Stomach, of course, has Greek roots, comes to us
via French. Linguistics makes sense; eventually, there is a pattern to the madness, if not
the people. Is there a kinder phrase for my gut is leaking, a kinder word for depression,
the body pressed and compressed like hard coral until it becomes a kind of habitat
for what we cannot name? Somewhere, other butterflyfish must surely be starving,
as I eat to regenerate: duck fat for anxiety, bone broth for fortification,
and raw fig, cashew and honey ice cream for joy; stare out the window,
where there may or may not be whales caught in the pines, and let words be shapes—
health from Old English meaning whole, and whole, good omen—the bluebirds
carrying tendrils of me, me, also part of this hearty spring, to reinforce
their nests, those tiny fortifications that lead me, leaky vessel that I am—
toward a softer bank, a sturdier treeline.
Charity Gingerich is from Uniontown, OH. Her first collection of poems, After June, won The Hopper poetry prize (Green Writers Press, 2019). Currently, she teaches ESL to international business persons and their families. Gingerich has received a poetry scholarship from the Sewanee Writer’s Conference (2016) and a residency from the Vermont Studio Center (2019). Her work has appeared in journals such as FIELD, the Kenyon Review, Arts & Letters, Ruminate, and Indiana Review, among others. When not writing and teaching, she enjoys singing with various choral groups.