“The Fast” by Ellen Sazzman

Collage of beige and green grass atop a mottled indigo and white backdrop reminiscent of an isolated coast.
Lowlands, Cynthia Weiss


A morbidly obese librarian is dumped by her salesman boyfriend – they’re madly in love –
because he is ridiculed by his friends for dating a fat pig.  Fat Pig* – that’s the play I have a
ticket to see in DC the day my dad gets his ticket punched in Cleveland.  Fat pig – that’s me
growing up, never thin enough until I’m too thin.  Dad never thin until he refuses food and caves
in upon his skeleton – despite my pushing gruel on him during every other weekend visits to Cleveland.  Just eat, you’ll get better – bullshit – cancer loves to eat.  And so do I.  Death makes
me hungry, starving for those donuts we share after our blind downhill slides on the Flexible
Flyer.  I gorge on Dunkin delicacies, white powder sifting like snow drifting in Cleveland.


The hospice doc says don’t come to Cleveland this weekend – Dad’s vital signs are strong – so
much for 21st century medicine.  I swallow, lick my lips, yearn for one more kiss, one last spilled confidence.  I know he understands about the play.  Dad’s a very literary guy despite only graduating eighth grade.  On snowy nights we spend hours in downtown Cleveland’s library full with magic flights – Mary Poppins and A Wrinkle In Time.  He loves my poems though I only
share upbeat stuff – of which there’s not much.  Dad’s a glass half empty kind of guy and so am


The Cleveland funeral home says it will store Dad in the fridge.  He’s not going anywhere.  I hire
a shomer $12 an hour to sit with him and watch until I arrive.  Back in DC, I adopt a handsome yellow Lab whose coat sheds constantly, a snow of fur that sticks.  Too bad the big guy never
meets Dad – Dad loves dogs.  All kinds.  But my Lab’s dying now – of cancer.  Like Dad. 
Except my Lab’s still happy to eat – a bowl half full kind of guy.

*Thanks Neil LaBute  


Ellen Sazzman has recently been published in Poetry South, A3 Review, PANK, Connecticut River Review, Ekphrastic Review, Paterson Literary Review, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Sow’s Ear, Lilith, Beltway Quarterly, Southward, Dash, Miramar, Common Ground, and CALYX, among others. She received an honorable mention in the 2019 Allen Ginsberg poetry contest, was shortlisted for the 2018 O’Donoghue Poetry Prize, and was awarded first place in Poetica’s 2016 Anna Rosenberg poetry competition.  She was also a 2012 Pushcart Prize nominee by Bloodroot Literary Magazine and a 2010 Split This Rock finalist.  She is a writer and recovering lawyer living in Maryland.    

Cynthia Weiss is a studio artist, public artist, and arts educator. She has directed public mosaic projects throughout Chicago transforming neglected spaces into local landmarks. She has exhibited at the Hyde Park Art Center, Uptown Art Center, Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, and Woman Made Gallery, among other spaces. Cynthia facilitates workshops in the arts and literacy, including with Habla: The Center for Language and Culture, in Merida, Mexico. She has been a Ragdale artist fellow and holds an MFA in painting from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a member of the Chicago Public Art Group. In her paintings, collages, and cut paper installations, Cynthia explores themes of ecosystems at risk, and the need for sanctuary in the human and natural world.