by Oriana Tang

In the fall of her fifty-fifth year my mother
Began to overspice her cooking. I watched her
Night after night, face lit by the harsh glow
Of the stove bulb, sowing handfuls of salt into the pot
As if praying for something to grow. I wondered
If this was her midlife crisis: revenge
For taking from her since birth, sucking from her
Blood and brain and marrow until her soft hands
Crumpled into lines, stealing from her
The almond of her eyes, the maiden curve of her hip.
My mother ladles a spoonful of soup for me to taste.
The grains curdle bitter against my tongue
And I imagine the inside of my mouth shriveling like the slugs
I poured salt on in the endless blue summer of sixth grade,
Their slippery treacle trails drying, the fat
Pink slick of their bodies contorting, distorting.
I had only wanted to help:
To show the slugs there was something beyond
The bland wax of a leaf.
Now my mother, her eyes question marks, the silver spoon
Balanced in her hand the way it has been for as long
As I can remember, asks: Is it good?
Of course I say Yes.