Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Why I Crave Ribs Tonight

Baby, don’t even
come near me
with that napkin.
Just let me at
each bone, slick
& sweet with smoky
sugar sauce. See all
the steam when
I nudge all the meat
off with my tongue?
(The only kind
of cloud we see
this lemonade day
in June). All this
driving & I need
to feel food
in my hands
no knife or fork
tonight. I want
to burn my lips
just enough, but
not too much
it hurts to kiss.
& that reminds me
of the glowing heart
inside me. How each rib
curves around, locks
tight in neat snaps
along the back—make
your hand like that
around my small
wrist & lead me
to the bathroom.
Stand with me
in the shower
feel the tender spot
just underneath
my ribs, lift my hands
above my head
& trace the space-
space-bone down
my sides with a blue
bar of soap—let this
be the only way
I’ll ever come clean.

Aimee Nezhukumatathil
Why I Crave Ribs Tonight was originally published in Crab Orchard Review (Summer 2003).
Poem, copyright © 2003 by Aimee Nezhukumatathil
Appearing on From the Fishouse with permission
Audio file, copyright © 2004, From the Fishouse