Table8 December 2020
don’t you hear me Mámá? the boy said.
the small, brown woman sits at the table,
meets his gaze
eyes open, h(ear)ing closed.
instead, she unties her tongue from the roof
where it is kept, letting her mouth
onto his expectant ear
watch them spill out
into still air.
phrases snake their way across the table. a table that she sanded, stripped back. back arched, her lithe arms lash the wood a new self—smoothing the setting. the nightly dance on the boy’s tongue. tongue the sharp scent of lemon, it’s wafting the words along their way. the crunch of inflections on the boy’s hands as he bites down on salty scales, juice dripping down, a way.
(on fridays the boy and his mother don’t eat fish. they have pes. (definition: pes = diminutive for pescado = Spanish (fish)).
scales f a l l
whistle, whistle in the air now
mijo vas a engordar mijo no tomes mucho mijo come más tortilla,
tienes que terminar tu maiz.
why aren’t you hungry? her hand slaps the table. the dishes clatter and he looks up, up into the voice crackling, broken breaths passing from mouth to ear. notice what I’ve done— para tú, and this is all I ask. all I ask.
Ask, all I, all—
waves smashing crashing over the boy’s head.
feel it now. i’ll make you.
Mijo mijo mijo mijo mijo mi hijo
rolling up and out and onto and
into the skull.
blink and you’ll miss the holes carved out
te quiero te quiero te quiero te quiero
cuts scratch, scratch on the bone
it’s in the thoughts, you know.
mámá always says the fish rots from the head.
i see it now.
Mámá, mámá, your table, it’s new.