All through elementary school
blonde beautiful lip reading teachers
would try to correct my “th”s by snaking
their tongues between their teeth and
holding it there, ripe cherries
tempting me to bite into them.
This was the one thing my withdrawn self
throbbing with the first thrusts of male
enthusiasm couldn’t stop thinking about—
all those thin throats with patchouli scents
wildly, willingly, whispering interdental fricatives
like a throng of French kisses to my thirsty lips.
I thoroughly desired the apples of their necks—
to chew them, suck them, swallow them,
eat them all -all of them- all of it,
every one so meaty-sweet and
erupting with wet dreams.
They would undress themselves,
my harem besides me on the river bank,
their white stomachs dewy and shivering,
the ribbiting Croquis behind the marsh
chanting to me to instruct these chicas
in the ch’s— chas, cha-chas, chochas
of the Puerto Rican mating call
with no use for this, that, these, thems,
just the rich vowels of legs parting
telling them each were
ella es hermosa como la luna.
(She is beautiful as the moon.)
Once Senorita Lujuria brought to class
a persimmon plucked from her garden
ripe with the musky smell
of what the girls thought was chocha
and the boys imagined was cum
that she sliced into two equal suns.
Knowing that it wasn’t ripe or sweet
I refused the first bite she offered.
I watched the others spit it out,
their palms full of bitter disappointment.
When I got home my mother was cutting
off the crown of a pomegranate, scooping
out the core without disturbing the berries,
scoring just through the outer rind, until
it quartered and could be gently pulled apart.
I stuck out my hand and she inverted the skin
until the berries fell warmly filling my palm
and then into a red plate
Her body was a bruise, especially her hands
I gently rolled her wheelchair
to her cluttered room
where she sang an old Spanish song
asking for the ghosts to take her away.
Her song swelled and she cried it out of her
heavy with sadness and sweet with love.
After she had passed I stumbled upon
three scrolls tied with purple velvet string
folded under a down blanket in the basement.
I unrolled three paintings done by my mother
in the Frida Kahlo style.
The first was a self- portrait of her holding
a quartered pomegranate in one hand,
a sliced persimmon in the other.
The second was of her staring out at the ocean,
her body bulging with the idea
of my joyous conception.
The last, was an erotic tableau
of her and Senorita Lujuria
in a forbidden embrace, signed and
dated two years before I was born.
The first two painting had the deftness
of a thousand skilled repetitions,
the taboo one sprawled with arthritic loops
but still had the talent of muscle memory.
My eyes teared with the knowledge that
my mother never lost the things she loved,
her son, the colors, scents and textures
of all the persimmons and pomegranates
so neatly sliced and lustily devoured.