Poems by Emily Lake Hansen

For My Son, Who Is Not Allergic to Eggs

I am learning to cook eggs: crack

them open against the pan, dispose

of the shells, wash my hands fast

under hot water, scramble together

the little round yolk and the clear junk

you say is called whites. For years,

I let you do the cooking, the messy

part, while I sat on the kitchen counter

silent, leafing through dusty cookbooks.


The first time I ate eggs, scrambled little

yellow things served with ketchup,

I broke out in hives, my whole body

suddenly covered in red, round welts.

My mother had to rush me to the hospital,

spent her first Mother’s Day sitting in the ER,

running her fingers back and forth

across the new landscape of my legs.


For two years, I refused to serve our son eggs,

convinced that our casual weekend breakfast

would turn his body into a field of tiny, red hills.

When you finally fed him his first bite,

a fuzzy-edged square of your omelette,

I had to close my eyes. I watched

the welts pop up and grow, the red spreading

across his limbs, spearing his torso, crawling up

his neck like the ants that invade

his plastic picnic table every summer.


Three hours later, he is still fine, skin

white and smooth, milky as ever.

The welts just an invention, a connection

I’ve imagined and reimagined between us,

wanting to give him things I can’t:

the lazy right eye I got from my father,

the lazy left ovary I got from my mother,

bodily things about us that can’t belong to him,

bodily things about him that can’t belong to us.


The Self and Others


I say to my students every semester,

there is importance in the self.

I care about you, I preach to them,

because I care about me, about the capital I

we write with in English.


What happens then when self secedes to others?

When I choose you over me. My bathroom counter

is covered with antacids and Old Spice, my living room

floor is littered with matchbox cars, my dining room table

holds the mail. For a period of time, I wrote in the closet,

laptop on my knees, coats hanging behind my head.



I struggle with where self erases,

but every day I choose this life:

my toothbrush, your toothbrush, his toothbrush

all alike on the counter, bristles gnawed, handles

touching. We touch each other and self

crumbles. He asks for just one more kiss

and I bow down and give it, pat his round

toddler belly and huddle over him like a bee

over a flower. I give and he gives. You give.

In the new house, you gave me an office.



My students sit and I stand. They give

me papers. I give back scribbles, judgments,

the impression that my ideas are greater than theirs.

By the nature of the classroom, my I is bigger

than their I. My desk at the front of the room,

my loopy, white letters on the board.


There, you and he are just a little red dot, blinking

at the top of my phone. I pace the classroom and self

ascends, bullies the others. But even then,

I can’t just turn you off. Once you blinked six times

and I could feel self retreat, crawl back down

into my stomach and sit crosslegged.


I resent it sometimes – the freedom of other

selves – the way any new parent suddenly

understands her dog is not a child, or how

any newlywed learns there are two ways to load the dishwasher.

But the but that follows is just as true.


I don’t know how to explain

that this is a love poem.


Emily Lake Hansen is a third year MFA student at Georgia College & State University.  She was the poet of the month at Atticus Review in January.  Her work has previously been a finalist at the Agnes Scott Writer’s Festival competition.

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