Caitlin Thomson

Time Conflated like Distance in a Photograph

In a gallery in Kauai, the owner stops us and says, You both are the picture of health. Less than a month ago, Jacob’s doctor was suggesting IV tube feeding. This should feel like victory, instead it feels like invisibility.

There are radishes growing in the garden. Cherries furling from flower into fruit.

On a plane somewhere over Canada a man glares at the back of my father’s head, scared from meeting too many lightbulbs.

A friend of mine wrote a poem about fat blackberries which was actually a poem about fat, about being it and being seen as only it. After a reading an older man told her all of his advice for how to rid your garden of blackberries.

Our apples have maggots, even though we covered every apple with nylons, so that they looked like an art project or a hosiery display.

My mother and I share a beloved doctor. Eventually that doctor explained how pain works for me, for people like me, to my mother, Pain without damage is just pain. There isn’t anything one can do about it.

People always ask me how Jacob is doing because his pain means something. I’d blame it on the patriarchy, but it’s true. Inside him there are ulcers and cancers, half a dozen mysteries they can only guess at with routine surgery.

In the fall he grows faint. I have to monitor the food he eats and doesn’t want to. My parents buy me a box of chocolates and he sniffs each one. This one smells good, he says, so I eat it first and it is.

Online a friend calls another friend fat and I want to slap them through the Zoom. Everyone in a mirage now, our image on the computer screens un-weighable.

There were so many apples the year after the maggots that we shared them with strangers, filled our dehydrator with green smiles.

Shovel for Two Years without Small Talk

I have knitted through an apocalypse. The
loom I use is the pink of my childhood bedroom walls.
There is a gentle
routine in loom knitting, one row laps another as
if waves at the shore, blue
and then the white of too hot flames.
I imagine strangers as they point
at the errors I made, from six feet apart an invisible curl
of wool. This pandemic has made me into
the kind of person who does not talk to my
neighbours with their backyard bars and loud living.

A golden shovel from “Vines” by Kaveh Akbar

Caitlin Thomson failed the second grade, yet two children rely on her, anyway. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals including: The Adroit Journal, The Penn Review, Barrow Street, Wraparound South, and Radar Poetry. You can learn more about her writing at