Beth Gallovic

Pine Row Issue No. 8 Autumn 2023 - Featured Poet

Pale Peach, Harvest Gold 

Childhood home, every room with shag carpet, 

shocking shade of pink in my bedroom. 

Red for my parents, though they were the least 

red-bedroomy people you could know. 

1972 house more bold than our family, 

gold foil accents in the upstairs hall. 

One bathroom sink chocolate brown, one shiny black– 

complementing that, zebra stripe wallpaper. 

Avocado stoves in neighbors’ houses, 

but our stove, and our fridge, harvest gold. 

Twenty years later, in therapy, memory surfaced– 

a single photo hung on that old fridge. 

My mom, gamely smiling 

pale peach polyester shorts, 

sleeveless matching striped shirt. 

Did I ask, or did she tell me– 

Why this photo, featuring only her? 

It was her “fat photo,” 

placed there to make her think twice 

every time she opened the fridge. 

It wouldn’t have occurred to me, 

had my therapist not suggested– 

Not the healthiest message 

for a young hungry girl. 

I earned my body hatred honestly, 

polyester piping stretching down the front of each thigh. 

My mom, like her mom, in overstretched pants. 

I feared I was already doomed. 

Now, it’s called ‘eating your feelings.’ 

What does it taste like, this shame, 

forty-seven years older than that photo 

on that harvest gold fridge.

About the poem:  as shared by the poet

Every word of this poem is true. The first stanza I wrote was directly about the photo. I think the intensity of that memory, and my fear of writing about my years of struggle with food and body image, led to my using the colors as a safer entry point for me into some emotionally challenging territory. 

In contrast to using my cognitive mind to try to make sense of events and feelings, poetry offers me an alternate path to more healing– if I’m brave enough to take the path, and willing to be surprised by what I find there. I’m grateful for all of us who write poetry in order to get at truths that we don’t have another way to uncover. 

Beth Gallovic has been seen on hiking trails around Boulder Colorado, pulling out creased squares of paper from her backpack to capture lines of poetry. She marvels often at what an expansive force poetry has become in her life. Her poems currently appear in Quibble, Twenty Bellows, and Black Bear Review.

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