She needs to eat. She needs
to keep something warm in
her stomach. I reheat rice on the stove,
some cabbage and smoked salmon
and bring it to her in bed.
Like a widow, she chews the end
of a bone already buried. Ignores
the plate. I make her sit up anyways
adjust just before she spits
her last meal into my hands. Warm,
half-digested ghost.

Downstairs in the kitchen
I’ll eat from this plate, the white grains
cold and dead, pinched in my fingers’
tight grip, raised to a mouth
emptied—already open.
And I’ll try to—no, I will,
I’ll keep it down.

Related Poems

Guadalajara Cemetery

You sort the tin paintings
and lay your favorite in my lap.
Then you stroke my bare feet
as I lean against a tombstone.
It's time to cross the border
and cut your throat with two knives:
your wife, your son.
I won't try to stop you.
A cow with a mouth at both ends
chews hell going and coming.
I never asked less.
You, me, these withered flowers,
so many hearts tied in a knot,
given and taken away.

in lieu of a poem, i'd like to say

apricots & brown teeth in browner mouths nashing dates & a clementine’s underflesh under yellow nail & dates like auntie heads & the first time someone dried mango there was god & grandma’s Sunday only song & how the plums are better as plums dammit & i was wrong & a June’s worth of moons & the kiss stain of the berries & lord the prunes & the miracle of other people’s lives & none of my business & our hands sticky and a good empty & please please pass the bowl around again & the question of dried or ripe & the sex of grapes & too many dates & us us us us us & varied are the feast but so same the sound of love gorged & the women in the Y hijab a lily in the water & all of us who come from people who signed with x’s & yesterday made delicacy in the wrinkle of the fruit & at the end of my name begins the lot of us

i know the grandmother one had hands

i know the grandmother one had hands
but they were always in bowls
folding, pinching, rolling the dough
making the bread
i know the grandmother one had hands
but they were always under water
sifting rice
bluing clothes
starching lives
i know the grandmother one had hands
but they were always in the earth
planting seeds
removing weeds
growing knives
burying sons
i know the grandmother one had hands
but they were always under
the cloth
pushing it along
helping it birth into
skirt
dress
curtains to lock out
night
i know the grandmother one had hands
but they were always inside
the hair
parting
plaiting
twisting it into rainbows
i know the grandmother one had hands
but they were always inside
pockets
holding the knots
counting the twisted veins
holding onto herself
let her hands disappear
into sky
i know the grandmother one had hands
but they were always inside the clouds
poking holes for
the rain to fall.