[the poetry billboard] - 'Dinner' by SL Lee

SL Lee

After a New Yearís dinner and on my way alone
To a friendís place.
Friends only because,
We want the same thing

A strange, unspoken thing

Throughout dinner
Their kindly faces
By tradition: rounded and furred

Uncles slumbering in sleep or newpapers
All over their faces Ė
They wake just in time
for dinner
Cousins too young
Sprawling the floor
Looking for something to help
Them stand
Their first step unto life.

Thereís no turning back.
No unlearning of a journey once began.

Aunts and my mum
Hands in every pot
Dinner like plots
Of novels:
Surprises and suspense with
Chili crabs that donít die
But wave goodbye in the sink
Before the chilli kills them
   Grandma in the corner, ordering.

"Eat more, eat more" my father tells me
"Thereís more to go this year"

"You are grown up now"
An acknowledgement or rebuke
against time too lubricated
by dinners such as these
swirling in dead crab shells
disarmed by my motherís hands
Several shades from white
for that fight
with me.

I put it to my mouth
And suck
Waiting for the burst
       And juices