Poem by Jackson Sabbagh

Artwork © Cesar Valtierra

 

Health Class

I hand Mr. David my calorie-counting log, a dwindling Fibonacci:
800 Monday, 500 Tuesday, 300, 100, 100, 0.
Strolling forth, doesn’t shake his head in dad-like disappointment
like I had thought. “I’m sorry,” I whisper,
“that my numbers are so low—I was sick this week.”
Maybe registering that I’ll be sick next week,
he glances at the other students, says, “Get back to normal soon.”
Last night I’d almost gone

to sleep completely empty—when my dad barged in,
flamboyant as a waiter on his first day, holding two salads
he’d salvaged from his backyard garden:
arugula gnarled with neglect, and grape tomatoes
squinched like revolted noses. And profuse as vomit,

his homemade vinaigrette he knew I loved, or used to love,
since it quickened the rigor of swallowing.
That’s how to acknowledge a father’s love, I thought,

—though you’d rather not exist, eat the salad, prove

he’s grown something that takes up space.

 

Artwork © Cesar Valtierra
Artwork © Cesar Valtierra

 


Jackson Sabbagh
is an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Florida. They won the Academy of American Poets College Prize at Sarah Lawrence College. Their poems have appeared in journals such as Assaracus, Word Riot, and RUST + MOTH, the last of which nominated them for a Pushcart Prize.

Cesar Valtierra is a graphic designer from El Paso, TX and the creator of the webcomic, Balazo.