Felicia Mitchell

The Things that Make Us Stronger Make Us Cry


It is late Friday afternoon

and I am drinking a vodka martini

in a jelly glass with a green olive

that I will enjoy as much as a good book.

The vodka is gluten free.


No, it is Friday afternoon

and I am writing a poem

about drinking a vodka martini

in a jelly glass, water running in the bathroom

because I think the pipe is clogged.

The martini is on the table.

If I delay, it will grow tepid like that water

dripping into the sink.

Five minutes ago, it was a perfect martini.


Ten minutes ago, I tried to change a lightbulb.

I did change a lightbulb.

Changing a lightbulb is the one thing

that will make me want to cry in my cups

so I had to make a cocktail when I finished.

I hope it is the only one I will drink this year.

Nobody told me I would never lift my arm

as quite as high again, or that twisting lightbulbs

while not raising my arm quite as high as I should,

or once could, would be my lot in life.


Cancer is supposed to make you stronger.

Turmeric tea is better than vodka.

Some olives are more nutritious than others.

I keep the house darker now,

the ambience dependent on natural light,

but even I need a light on now and then.

Felicia Mitchell, a native of South Carolina, has lived in rural southwestern Virginia since 1987. She teaches English and creative writing at Emory & Henry College. She is the author of "Her Words. Diverse Voices in Contemporary Appalachian Women’s Poetry" (University of Tennessee), and her recent poetry collection is "Waltzing with Horses" (Press 53). Website: www.feliciamitchell.net