8 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


loosening the


            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.

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