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.