Mad Cow Disease – A Poem by Christina Pierpaoli


the meatloaf sits waiting for you
like my dignity
the enigma, the space
that intoxicated us both
at the beginning

intoxicated us
like that wine that we sometimes drink
to remember,
to forget
(the wine I cook with)
it’s vinegar-ed, now

I wonder if I am truly equal parts Marie Curie,
Betty Draper
it was, once, a ratio
70-30, respectively
30-70, now

they asked me
to pick my poison
they asked me if I wanted to be shot or hanged

but does a cow decide
to be meatloaf?

you never did have to choose
you’ll never have to

bon appétit

Brief discussion 

I take umbrage with many implications of modern feminism – namely that women want to, can do, ought to do it all. What probably began as a well intentioned, empowering polemic has—at least to me— morphed into yet another mandate added to the catalogue of expectations imposed onto women to be superhuman. Find an equal! Get married! Go to graduate school! Get your PhD! Have children! Be sexual! Be a professional! Exercise! Eat well! Be domestic! Yes, you can (read as: must) do it all! I feel, at once, liberated but incredibly exhausted. I am wondering if you do too.

I conceptualized this poem while shuffling between my fiancé’s office—writing— and the kitchen, where I’d been preparing a meatloaf for us. I recall being mid-sentence when suddenly the kitchen timer would blaze, alerting me that something required poking, prodding, or heating. The frustration of balancing— reconciling— these uniquely female tensions between domesticity and productivity, softness and intellect, power and submission, intimacy and eroticism I hope, is captured here. I also play with the motif of meat to capture the sexual objectification of women.



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