The Dinner Table

After a while I forget
how to speak with my hands.
Years since. I eat with spoon
and fork at the table, sometimes
on the floor. Go through glasses
of water just to feel full again.
I stain the table with dark rims
of dew.

Lolo serves us milkfish—
the only meal he remembers
how to cook he could make
with his eyes closed.
He has lost his grip, his muscles
turned pulpy, eyes like seawater
during typhoon season.
Still, he eats with his hands.
His fingers move as if
strumming an instrument.
A quiet sound.

I avoid the fish for the vegetables,
taste bitterness at the back
of my tongue. Without words
he pushes the plate of fish
towards me. I reach for it,
trying to relearn what I have lost.

My hands are rash, thoughtless.
My own skin taut over the bone
as I separate the fish
from its spine.
Miming a language
I once knew, awkward
in my movements, lacking
the precision of loss.

A splinter of bone
gets caught in my throat—
a word I cannot say.
I gather a small ball of rice
between my fingers
to swallow the fragment
like I was once taught.

This is a reprint of work originally published in The Susquehanna Review.

Krysta Lee Frost is a mixed race Filipino American poet who halves her life between the Philippines and the United States. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Margins, Entropy, Berkeley Poetry Review, wildness, and elsewhere. She is currently pursuing an MA in Creative Writing at the University of the Philippines Diliman.

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