Fish Bone

This must be me, the child,

Resisting at the kitchen table,

Mouth tightening with refusals.

Who but a mother could love

The sad little puker? I can’t.

To this day I want to shake him,

Tell him to stop his mewling and stuttering.

Speak, for God’s sake. Spit it out.

In one hand my mother holds a fork.

The other she holds under my chin

To catch the falling when I pull away.

I’m afraid of the fish bone.

I know a thing or two about death.

I heard about the boy in Texas, my age,

Who loved to sing How Do I Know?

The Bible Tells me so.

His parents found him swaying

From the ceiling.

He was buried in his cowboy suit.

And I heard how one of the Dorseys

Choked on a fish bone. I learned

Years later, far too long

For it to matter, that Dorsey

Choked in his sleep on his own vomit.

Chew Carefully, my mother implores.

Spit out the bones. I did. And I do.

To this day I still do.

My tongue sweeping my mouth

Like a prison searchlight.

Barry Seiler has published four books of poetry, the last three from University of Akron Press. He lives in a very small town in the catskills.