view updated

What I Hate Most About Mom


is her dying. How these days

I’m busy reckoning

how to make a family

from just one man.

I see death everywhere.

A banana peel left

to the sun is a bat’s

cadaver. The accent mark

in every beautiful Spanish

word—la poesía—is a switch

-blade at the belly.

I can look at the knot

in a piece of wood

until it frightens me.

It’s November now,

all the leaves are curled

with drought. I lied

before. What I hate

most about my dying

mother is that she

won’t eat garlic.

In these final weeks

I try to impress her

with my cooking. She turns

each meal she won’t eat

into a rhymed couplet—

When I meet death,

I won’t have bad breath.

I’m still learning from her

how to laugh at this poem.

How to turn each bridge

into a balcony. To applaud

everything that floats

down river. Depending

which way you turn,

the water is coming

or it has already left.