We crossed that bridge
the second you came upon it,
beach blankets soaked
and the lovers’ notes
carved a generation before us
had seemed entirely too heavy
until that night when I sat down
to undercooked chicken and overcooked rice
served with an unconditional side of love.
And I remember feeling sorry for the chicken
at that moment in all of my wise teenage years,
and having an epiphany right there
at the dinner table next to an alcoholic
control freak who called me stepdaughter
and walked upon me to seal it
like the gummy flap of an envelope
stuffed with unloved letters,
and a mother who wore exhaustion
hidden inside her navy pumps.
Death, no matter how it is served
will always precede dinner
unless breakfast beats it to lunch.
And I thought myself wise beyond my years
in that moment, still warm
from the glow of your summer love
and giddy because you and the chicken
filled the pit in my stomach
that always seemed to pound
when he cleared his throat.
And when I heard him gag
behind the ball of his fist and blame it
on the weather and too big a gulp,
I almost didn’t wish he would choke
on chicken or the spite hidden beneath it.
Nicole Lyons is a writer/editor for Sudden Denouement and the creator of The Lithium Chronicles.