What Was Lost at the Kitchen Table
Our first kitchen table was surrounded
by wobbly chairs that swiveled so much
the wheels fell off. Again & again,
absence opened its jaws around
the Formica oval with missing front teeth,
only incisors & molars left to mash,
tear, incite. I’m not surprised by my turn
of luck, licked twice, like batter
in the bowl that turned salty, not sweet.
When I examine a leaf, it’s static
but its veins pulse in my hand. I inhabited
a world of plates & knives
though I wanted service for four
with an exquisite white gown, my mother’s
Passionata Pink lipstick on the back
of a folded paper napkin. I felt the alphabet
soup tremble, quickening soda,
the alchemy of water with added minerals.
Here, the marker I waited for: ancient
flatbread, crisp & dry. A torn subway map
someone tried to tape together.
The soundtrack of memory is the hardest
to unlock. A storm has abandoned its
hunting song. Our faces white as kosher salt.
A Painful Case of the Possible
Priorities shift like wingbeats—finding a mate
on a dating site, calculating the rate of climate catastrophe.
You want a life that gives joy but forget how
to say yes, how to unlearn patterns
you can’t stop repeating. You want to know if it’s possible
to have relationships without contingencies,
to unlearn setting your childhood home on fire.
Some of your platonic friends have asked to kiss you—
or at least thought about it—too many times. This is the ache
of blue-stop, molecular patterns of dried blood on walls,
the aroma of Chinese takeout
when you open the bag. Think of holes in socks,
a sleeve singed by a candle, the top flap of a sheet
folded & unfolded. But wasn’t it the random coupling
of Adam & Eve that started this discombobulation,
God’s holier-than-thou mindset — a nipple, an apple,
fingertips grazing the sweet stink of earth, the way
we conveniently forget death is in the room —
the inevitable breakup? In the meantime, shave a stiletto
& trap it in a cage. Listen to cats in heat
sob in the cul-de-sac—no more contradictory cues
like static in search a radio. Soil streams through my body,
ripples of water against a veined belly. The heart holds
what it can’t understand—a fishbone caught in the throat
when you try to speak. Just because you wear shoes
filled with pebbles that can sink to the bottom
of a muddy river, doesn’t mean that you want to drown.
Susan Michele Coronel lives in New York City. Her poems have appeared in publications including Spillway 29, TAB Journal, The Inflectionist Review, Gyroscope Review, Prometheus Dreaming, Redivider, and One Art. In 2021 one of her poems was runner-up for the Beacon Street Poetry Prize, and another was a finalist in the Millennium Writing Awards. She has received two Pushcart nominations. Her first full-length poetry manuscript was a finalist for Harbor Edtitions' 2021 Laureate Prize.