Gettysburg Review
Gettysburg College | Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Adrian Koesters

A Nun Eats Out of Turn on a Fast Day

The hunger not in her stomach         this one that arches her back
Under the stiff linen sheeting         designed to fend off just this hunger
Works its way into her stomach         from her lips, her mouth, how to describe
What it means to need         this much as she faces a metal bowl
Of boiled eggs in the peels         she dips her hand, cupped over one
Less its peel, into the second bowl of cool water to rinse the shell
Bits from the flesh,         pretends to drop the egg in the third bowl
Brings her hand to mouth and coughs,         flips the egg to her tongue behind
Her teeth and closes them, careful         not to allow a bulge in her cheeks
Nor to let the working of the mouth         over the white and yolk
Show to the sister across the table,         or the guardians watching in spirit
She feels again that hunger that bread,         if it were alive, could not ease
As a voice, detached, says,         “I don’t want—I can’t—”


Adrian Koesters holds an MFA in poetry from the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University and a PhD in fiction and poetry from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She currently serves as senior poetry reader for Prairie Schooner, has been assistant editor for American Life in Poetry (www.americanlifeinpoetry.org), and is fiction editor at the online journal, A River and Sound Review. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Crab Creek Review, Hotel Amerika, International Poetry Review, Literary Mama, Saranac Review, Scythe, and elsewhere. Her nonfiction book on spirituality, Healing Mysteries, was published by Paulist Press in 2005.

“A Nun Eats Out of Turn on a Fast Day” appears in our Winter 2012 issue.