Mehrnoosh Torbatnejad

Depression Diagnosed the Vegan 


I woke up sliding off the couch from a second nap 

in my parents’ living room, well after lunchtime 

to a quiet made by a vacant home, 

by the departure of family members for work and school; 

I could not remember when I last ate, 

so I squirmed like a legless thing to the kitchen, 

opened the fridge and scanned the uncooked contents, 

knowing I could not peel, cut, or stand over a stove, 

I pulled from the second shelf the heavy half 

of a roasted chicken, lifted the glass lid and stared 

at the leftover frame of a body that once lived; 

I began to strip the skin as I sat there in the cold gap 

between the door and crisper, clawing the meat 

and folding ribbons of flesh into my mouth 

with the speed of someone eager for bones; 

I did not care for taste or rights, or to pause 

to watch my own horror, licking the fat and muscle 

of a creature I promised would never touch my lips, 

I cared only for the frantic desire to end 

an expanding hunger, though once I noticed 

the ripped tissue of what I had picked piled beneath 

my long nails, staining my fingertips with the smell 

of seared breast, I thought of the vulture, 

the bare-necked beast disgraced for feasting on carcass, 

whose acid is so remarkably corrosive, it can dine on rot, 

on animal long decayed, on carrion so rancid 

it would poison any other bird; that day, 

and for several years after, I yearned to be that scavenger, 

to tear away at my own animal, this most putrid monster 

whose consumption was killing the others; 

it would be okay if a little blood always dripped 

from my talons, when I could still fly away unaffected, 

pleased to know it was dissolving like an iron nail in my stomach 


Mehrnoosh Torbatnejad has appeared in the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, The Missing Slate, Painted Bride Quarterly, and is forthcoming in Silk Road Review. She is the poetry editor for Noble / Gas Qtrly, and a Best of the Net, Pushchart Prize, and Best New Poets nominee. She currently lives in New York where she practices matrimonial law.

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