Naperville, Illinois, USA
Naperville North High School
my mother holds femininity between her teeth, with all
the tightness of a peach wound slick and oily
and overripe in a sticky night. she holds it close, moistening as she would
the spool of thread she used to suture close the flesh-knit
caverns of lustful moons and dried plum meat, twinkling
salty-sweet and pretty in the worn hands of the tofu seller.
august lays rotting in the porcelain fruit bowl dipped a flaxen
teal, its guts glistening a humid red that tastes like
adulating sunflower seeds. and now
we’re seated at this dinner table again, ensnared in its sugar,
playing imposter as i puppet my tongue leaden and
pinched, clacking out ugly little shreds
that would make the syrup-lipped girls back home giggle, their lips born
so hot from the sanctity of belonging. but the fisheyes won’t
leave me alone. the earth still fluctuates under the soles
of my feet, its gums spitting and gnashing
itself anaphylactic at my touch, its drunken and heady soil
so thick with nectar the wasps swarm apple-sweet
along the curve of my lips. i wish i could crack myself
like a salt-streaked piece of chicken cartilage to
sit along both sides of the pacific, to keep both dogs’ gluttony
at bay. her blood churns in
sweat-soaked sheets, choked with fry grease, trying
to get me back to the lotus roots sleeping in the west
lake’s pools. the earth’s viscera are volatile tiger fat in my mouth, replacing
the dried plums as
i spit them back into her hand.
Whether you’ve tried dried plums or not, “Oleaginous” brings you to the speaker’s perspective as they taste the intricacies of one of these fruits – sweet, salty, sticky, stuck in a deeply rooted cultural tension. The visceral imagery and detailed allusions of this poem expose the speaker’s raw emotions as they face the complex conflict between their individual hopes for expressing their culture and the expectations of society – or worse, of their own mother.
Isabella is a high school student from the Chicagoland area and a member of the class of 2022. In her free time, she enjoys going for bike rides, trying new recipes, and driving around cornfields.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR