People to Run From

After dinner, I’m mailed back to my father in a suitcase.

The tablecloth is edible. Gold is edible. God is edible too.

Don’t believe the words on the table—they’re not food.

I’m worried someone will walk in and take my plate away.

The men I grew up with ate white rice burritos.

Sometimes the stars feel nearby. Sometimes they write.

When my parents fought about rent, the ends of my body came and went.

My father climbs out of my body at night in search of gold chains

He can pawn at Don Roberto Jewelers.

At some point, a pattern will emerge—at some point, all of it will make sense.

A vast table, laid out with fruits, vegetables, and smoked meats.

Gold is edible. Fathers are edible too.

Mom makes a list of chores for my brother and I to avoid being slapped

Or asked to assume the position from across the room.

We are nuisances, embarrassments, party-squatters to teenage parents.

At my cousin’s wedding: birria, red rice and potato salad.

Then into the bathroom—I go.

I try but can’t stop putting certain things inside me.

For a long time, I thought all girls were disciplined this way,

Thrown into the dark to reckon with thoughts.

He told me the vein inside had broken—put that in my book.

Fairy tales about girls who’ve been wronged.

Copyright © 2023 by Diana Marie Delgado. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 23, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.