Neck Bone

The body is a made up thing

so my parents claim to have a hold

on my life—that which they gave

can be taken away should I

make a fool out of you or me.

My mother can have my neck

but she chooses that of a turkey.

This she stews tenderly but the flesh

still hangs to the bone, hiding

tight in the grasp and groove of that

complexity. Someone broke

that neck, bent it into a delicacy

for common folk. We feast.

My mother chooses a thick gravy

to smother that which she loves

but does not tear it apart completely.

When my father says son

it is an act of possession, a reminder

of who’s flesh and bone I am made.

This isn’t that complex: I know

what a child’s place is and simmer

between utterance and defiance,

cradling the hard body of my soft

throat. Their mouths clean

meat from bone through teeth

and tongue—a sucking I hear

in the next room as a warning call.

Then the sound of dry, white bones

dropping into plates I am called to clean.

I like to think of care this way:

a metal spoon ready to strike at will,

to act as a knife, or to fill a bowl

with a love this thick.



Malcolm Tariq is a Cave Canem fellow from Savannah, Georgia. A graduate of Emory University, he is currently a PhD candidate in English at the University of Michigan. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Red Truck Review, CURA: A Literary Magazine of Art and Action, Vinyl, HEArt Online, Nepantla, and Winter Tangerine. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia [where he stay black].