Sappho and Sappho and I, Sappho

E.B. Schnepp

I eat paintings the way a woman eats bibles — in the back corners of used book stores, the cracked leather and faux gilt burn her fingerprints away. They know her intentions, that she seeks the flesh and the Word but will find only ink and tree pulp. I seek a similar thing in the paint chips I scrape from painting edge when no one is looking. My tongue is yellow. van Gogh ate yellow paint to be happy but I eat it the way some consider carving away their left ear — to be closer to a man who could paint a field of grass into a masterpiece that won’t fade, not even when winter comes. And I don’t know the woman’s name, though someone must. I name her Sappho for the crocodile that carried a woman’s words through centuries. Someday some man will carve her open and find an entire religion, be grateful. I name myself the same thing, in case someday a man cuts me open and finds seventeen masterpieces, blesses my hunger.