Nourish My Tongue

by Lena Judith Drake
In an airplane with the stale-smelling air, drop-shakes turbulence,
sipping a cracked plastic cup of Coke, ice cube sharp
and sticking to my tongue.
Inadequate turkey sub from airport vendors, $8.50 for half
without the side of soup.

San Juan inside my great aunt's kitchen, air conditioning
tacked inside a shelf.
Four ham and cheese sandwiches, sweaty fingertips pressing tiny squares
of foamy white bread flat.
A bowl of dried cherry ice cream, tiny metal spoon
and they chatter in Spanish about my stomach,
when I was little, and when I ate only seeds, like a sparrow.

Guayanilla, village in the mountain, sand on the mattresses.
My cousins and I and big loafs of bread,
tough, cat-claw towers for my teeth,
big loafs of bread with sliced guayaba paste, and sharp goat cheese,
white and undyed. We eat this,
all day,
picking drinks from the unrotted coconuts
resting in grass strands of the ground.
Pasteles, lumped brown meat in banana husk,
my cousins and I coming and going in the broken screen door, wearing no shoes.
A sea restaurant where children danced
and too young to speak, kissed, mouths closed innocent,
shrimp empanadas,
a can of bug spray on the table to keep the bees off our legs.
My cousins and I and big bowls of candy, sticking like molar caps,
our grandmother sleeping. Instead of brown-speckled arms to make us meals,
were singed cheese omelets.
And more bread, more water, more coconut milk dripping down my lips
and collarbones.
Lena Judith Drake is majoring in Creative Writing at Grand Valley State University. In her spare, non-writing time, she eats, sleeps, practices activism, and sings loudly in her house with the windows open.

© 2008, Lena Judith Drake