Before, it used to soothe her into sleep.
The sound of her neighbor’s car tires
crunching over the gravel in the driveway
to or from the parking lot.
She pretended she was at the ocean
and the gravel was the waves drowsily
lapping the shore. Now the sound
keeps her up at night. Her stomach growls
as the rocks grind under the cars’ weight
and her tongue traces her teeth anticipating
the chips small enough to lodge
between her molars. Fighting
cravings to go outside, fill a bowl
and munch it like granola, she flicks
on the tv and catches the tail end
of The Birds. She’s always liked pigeons
and remembers from somewhere
that they gobble pebbles to help
their gizzards crack the outer shells
of seeds, especially in the winter
when soft worms don’t offer themselves
up after rain. She hopes her hunger has a purpose,
is trying to help her break down
things that she can’t stomach on her own.
When things get easier, when she doesn’t dream
about eating abandoned birds’ nests
until she disappears like they do
late in the year, she might swallow
less grit, need less of the earth to live.