Kung Pao with You on the Anniversary of Your Suicide

The shrimp seem ready to unclench, ready
to poke through their buttery membranes and burst
flailing fisted into our world, to backstroke
into our lives: pails, shovels, seersucker sunsuits,

the back seat of the old Buick (I was just teasing you
about the child-eating blowholes), the Maginot Line

between us. You dig in with unusual gusto,
but I can’t seem to put my fork into these creatures,
cuddled like white mice, small pink noses nudging
each other, while the empty shells on your plate rattle

like little gossips as you stab one with a chopstick.
You are more animated than I remember, laughing

about how I cut the tiny dress tabs off your Betsy McCall paper dolls
so they had to wear their underwear. I had forgotten that,
but you’re on to the long summer evenings we played statues,
mosquito bites blossoming on our arms, spinning

to dizziness with the neighbor kids until the designated god
(usually me) said STOP. We’d outdo each other in disfigurement—

serpentined arms, grotesque twisting torsos—
the dusky grass blooming with Visigoths. Our breath stilled,
the world suspended, until someone giggled, and we’d fall
to the grass in furious glee. Your chopstick pointed playfully,

you remind me how you were always the last to collapse,
but I’d name someone else winner. There you’d be,

covered with red bites, holding still
till way past dark if need be,
while the rest of us ran off
to play something else.
Verse Daily, the audio site From the Fishouse, and elsewhere. She won The
Briarcliff Review
2004 Poetry Contest, the 2006 Metro Detroit Writers Contest,
and the 2008 Juniper Prize from
Alligator Juniper.