When you ask me to split a dessert with you, I wince
because I don’t like to share my restaurant food

and there is the matter of who pays for what.
If I don’t order a drink and just have a salad,

always the person in the group who gobbled steak,
a glass of wine, and two appetizers says, Let’s just split

the check equally! But you, you raise your eyebrows when
the waitress mentions a brambleberry tart and maybe

so do I. When she places the piping-hot pie dish
with two funnels of steam and two spoons, you look

at me and say: dig in. We have already tasted
from each other’s lips when we’ve shared cold glasses

before. I’m fairly certain across this table across the slide
of the fork, even the knife we both use—this is how

thumbnail-sized coquina clams feel when they tumble
and toss into the shoreline from an impending storm—

how they gasp and slide their feet trying to brace
themselves, then thwap—another wave. And after

that tumble, the sunlight glows below you, and then
above you, where it should be, and I wipe my mouth

with the pink napkin and in the folds of that napkin
is a lipstick kiss where the kiss should be—never

between your neck and shoulder. Our mouths will press
only on this sugar, this glaze, and this caramelized topping.

More by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Upon Hearing the News You Buried Our Dog

I have faith in the single glossy capsule of a butterfly egg.
I have faith in the way a wasp nest is never quiet

and never wants to be. I have faith that the pile of forty
painted turtles balanced on top of each other will not fall

as the whole messy mass makes a scrabble-run
for the creek and away from a fox’s muddy paws.

I have been thinking of you on these moonless nights—
nights so full of blue fur and needle-whiskers, I don’t dare

linger outside for long. I wonder if scientists could classify
us a binary star—something like Albireo, four-hundred

light years away. I love that this star is actually two—
one blue, one gold, circling each other, never touching—

a single star soldered and edged in two colors if you spy it
on a clear night in July. And if this evening, wherever you are,

brings you face to face with a raccoon or possum—
be careful of the teeth and all that wet bite.

During the darkest part of the night, teeth grow longer
in their mouths. And if the oleander spins you still

another way—take a turn and follow it. It will help you avoid
the spun-light sky, what singularity we might’ve become.