holes in the earth (rewrite)

Cambodia swallowed him like a pill
washed him down with ocean water –
mixed with sticky Khmer noodles,
Amok and curried vegetables hot
as equator sun – settled in the country’s
great belly, and some days still
it was hard to stomach him.

two months in the jungle country
in a one room apartment
with a woman, skin like split lychee
he peels fruit with his hands and
next day she is back for more.

six months of stripped fruit flesh and
she tells him, you fed me so much mango
i am growing one inside me.
his knees buckle beneath palm wine,
he climbs out of his skin
to bear the summer heat.

they drink cool broth from yesterday’s
noodle soup, lick salt from upper lips.
papaya skins the size of a baby
pile up in the sink.



His neck sat at an odd angle to his shoulders
the swollen fingers of arthritis
gripping at every moving part of him.

(She said she stopped wearing her wedding ring
because she was scared of losing it to the jaws of the
kitchen sink)

At the short end of the dining room table
his shirt sleeves trailed through the boxed mashed potatoes,
cornbread nested in his alabaster beard.

(They hadn’t slept together in months,
the yellow rings of sickness in his eyes
were their gold wedding bands)

We made excuses to look at our father
offered him wine even though he preferred bourbon
and delivered seconds though his plate went untouched.

(The strap of his oxygen mask made lines on his scalp
as he slept, she grated bits of her fingers into his
morning oatmeal)

We ground cheap steak between our teeth
pulling bits of gristle from under our tongues
while mother ate hers 10-second-seared and bloody
leaving a pile of bones for the crows.


She wore a red turtleneck on the first day
not unwarranted, the weather man himself
donned a hand-knit scarf joked
that his wife had quick fingers that were finally
being put to good use.
Her chalkboard earrings asked for bedside notes
mistakenly carved into oaks
a purposeful sloppiness
only achieved by a pocket knife and a writers wrist.
She talked little and laughed a lot
the looseness of her jaw sending waves over
our lipsticked mouths,
the points of our eyeliner softening to a sex smudge
throat coated with her high necklines.