Edible Maladies by Angie Kang

my mother calls the day after the shootings, but
            between us: a fence of teeth. firewall

of bone. this shared red tongue, coated with
            papillae of yellow stars

we’ve knotted into a nest of fragile
            domesticity. here, in the frozen umbra

of new news, our tongue
            does not know how to contort

to discuss it. instead, it ribbons.
            my mother asks: what is this tune?

and then a tinny hum. vibration around
            our useless appendage. the melody dark

and angry. I never knew anything
            to hold so much blood.

as I listen to my mother’s quivering
            voice, I worry my square incisors

with my tongue. when I got my braces
            off, this metal cage, my dentist

shaved off two millimeters of enamel,
            and when I got home my mother

cried. a week of calcium silence.
            mourning what she created and

could no longer protect.
            my lips are pursed as I listen,

trying to place her unfamiliar tune and give
            the yearning a name. together my mother

and I try the impossible: grasping at something
            out of reach, an answer that might

offer relief, satisfy us if only
            for an instant.

 

Angie Kang is a Chinese-American writer and illustrator living in San Francisco, CA. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in The Believer, The Rumpus, Narrative, The Offing, and others. She enjoys playing online chess, swimming in the ocean, and separating quarters by where they were minted. She can be found online at www.angiekang.net or on Instagram @anqiekanq.

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