FROM THE AMERICAN CHEESE SPECIAL: ‘Coagulating, with Grace’ by Annabelle Williams


It’s the summer of tonsil stones
and I’ve had bronchitis for months,

offered my excess calcium to the sea
hoping to become a shell–

The doctor said I had the biggest tonsils he’d ever seen
I already knew about my tongue. At the school where

I taught math poorly through July
each day I washed the kids’ cups of milk and thought

how it could flood me. Cheese kids peeled from sandwiches
sweating and stuck to the glazed gymnasium floor

dug its heels in when I swept
mourning its velvet potential, lost to mysterious ham.

What ever happened to tibia mania, or
standing small at the deli counter

for a slice of Land of Lakes? I wish I remembered
my last slice but I know it was the same as the first

I ever had, most likely wearing a taffeta dress and three braids
in my hair. It could be that my shells are that memory

lodged and over aged in my throat, leaving
my uvula swiss holed while I search for a salt cure

like a cod or a yolk. I jump off the docks at night
cabernet lipped and prescribed as many steroids

as a heifer on the cusp of bloom but
me, I become more American by the minute.

I’ve grown a mustache and my car rattles
on the side of the highway while I heave

frog-spine mucus into gravel. Piling tall while I fold.
Ectomy loomed like Sunday but who’s got time–

each night my fingers webbed and I pictured shark jaws
agape while I splashed open the moon.

A decade ago my fourth grade class thought I died–
I had splenitis and bonfire poison ivy. No cards.

Next the doctor checked my thyroid
hands around my neck saying

swallow, swallow,

Is it not malpractice to make a heart beat like that
while a stethoscope measures the blush?

I’d bet he doesn’t even remember my spectacular tonsils
so if you’d like my shells – take them.

With any luck I’ll be working a dairy barn this summer
putting use to my hack and mastering the sheen.


Image generated on Stable Diffusion


Annabelle lives in Maine and enjoys the cold. She assigns sentimental value to the mundane and collects pig figurines. The Gorko Gazette was the first journal to receive a piece of her writing but she plans to submit more poetry to more magazines after graduating from undergraduate school this May. @abelle.w on instagram for snooping and / or communicating.