That one night,
Back when my mother used to cook,
We ate dinner at the table—together.
I swallowed the rice, the beans, the chicken
Eating all of my plate and half of hers,
While my mother sat dormant in her chair,
Hands gripping the armrest like a prisoner
Strapped in an electric chair.
When she finally spoke
Her voice was cold—
Your hips are getting awfully wide.
Honey, short girls have to be careful. You gain so easily.
Poor girl, you have my round face.
I felt the rice in my stomach expand,
Knocking on my jean button.
The fat cells multiplying.
My mother ate an ice cube,
That night I dreamed of
Toothbrushes down my throat
And stomach acid on my tongue—burning.
I dreamed of my teeth falling out,
Like cargo floating down a river
As I washed my mouth out
I looked in the mirror
And saw my mother staring back at me,
A sliver of a woman with a painful smile,
Empty tooth sockets inflamed and bleeding.
Poor girl, eat an ice cube.