Small Things

Those years we lived in a small village in Spain: Pucol
narrow streets and beautiful balcony gardens where I could watch
the algae bloom from a sea of tiled rooftops. A small one-market
town, where we would wait, my dad and I—still not even two years old
standing in line with all the old women buying groceries. This is how
we learned ordering a whole chicken here came with head and talons
pieces with which my brothers and I would chase my squealing
shrieking mother, tired and home after a long day of teaching
this was just too, too much—a culture shocking

And so, even though it gave dad and us kids a thrill, tired also
from teaching our mouths new sounds, our ears new words
configurations, like constellations, a whole language, hecho de
cosas pequeñas
. My papa, in his broken half-gestured way
and nudging me for the occasional word, began to gift these
small parts: beaks, and neck bone make, buena sopa, said
the abuelitas, the talons too. The heart and the liver though
they insisted we keep, taught my papa to pan fry them in olive oil
chi chi, nos dijeron, they told him, feed it to your daughter
dalo a tu hija, how it soon became my favorite dish, how it flavored
my tongue, la sangre de mi corazón.

A Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize nominee, Kelsey Bryan-Zwick is a Spanish/English-speaking poet from Long Beach, California. Disabled with scoliosis from a young age, her poems often focus on trauma, giving heart to the antiseptic language of hospital intake forms. Author of Watermarked (Sadie Girl Press) and founder of the micro-press BindYourOwnBooks, Kelsey’s poems appear in petrichor, Cholla Needles, Rise Up Review, Right Hand Pointing, Redshift, and Making Up, a Picture Show Press anthology. Writing towards her new title, Here Go the Knives, find her at

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