IF YOU COULD SEE WHERE I LEARNED TO COOK
sousing for my gram & I sing her French love songs
I can’t translate / she knows it’s about eyes & bones & beds
I think / how embarrassing to not speak
the language, to undress parsley of yellow leaves
& crave your tile island / how we don’t speak when eating
the coal quiet / sage leaves soft as rabbit
fur / shredded over risotto you are probably eating right now
in Chicago / I had rice for dinner too / from a freezer bag
because she’s cooked for three generations
& is too tired for big meals two consecutive nights
I take down the big knife, think
I’m helping & regret / I step outside myself
so quickly / table where my plate would go cold
& wait for me all night until breakfast / each portion
hard & dry & still mine / nothing like
the farro dish we ordered twice / chestnuts
& an open hand waiting to take whatever is left
Gram carving pork into the pan
from the back of the fridge / pulling
paring knife into her thumb again
again / two rabbits in the yard / a hutch
she calls The Rabbit Taj Mahal
we had rabbit meatballs that night, yes?
I keep consistent
enough to eyeball a 1/4 cup of diced onion
exactly / it makes her proud to see me
snapping walnuts down to dust by hand
This selection comes from the poetry collection, a falling knife has no handle, available from YesYes Books. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Tierney Bailey.
Emily O’Neill teaches writing and tends bar in Cambridge, MA. Her second poetry collection, a falling knife has no handle, was released with YesYes Books in fall of 2018 and was one of Publishers Weekly‘s ten most anticipated poetry titles of the season. It was also longlisted for the Julie Suk Award from Jacar Press. Her debut poetry collection, Pelican, was the inaugural winner of YesYes Books’ Pamet River Prize for women and genderqueer writers, as well as the winner of the 2016 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Series in Poetry. O’Neill is also the author of five chapbooks, most recently You Can’t Pick Your Genre (2nd edition Big Lucks, 2019). Her recent poems, stories, and essays have appeared in The Best Indie Lit New England Anthology, Cutbank, Catapult, Redivider, Salt Hill, and Washington Square, among many others. She holds a degree in the synesthesia of storytelling from Hampshire College.
Tierney Bailey is a Libra, a lover of science fiction and poetry, and studies Korean in her spare time. Currently, Tierney is an associate poetry editor at Sundress Publications, a copyeditor at Strange Horizons, and a freelance graphic designer. Tierney earned a Masters Degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College. Tierney is most easily found screaming into the void on Twitter as @ergotierney.