Father killed the thin black pig for the last supper.
Mother sliced strips of back fat and brought out the table-grill.
The room filled with the smell of grease and coal-smoke.
My metal chopsticks clicked the loudest, deft fingers
laying rice in cabbage leaves, rolling tightly.
A borrowed suitcase by the door, latched with new life—
if new life smells of red pepper paste and dried squid,
is heavy as a stone hotpot wrapped in three towels and a sweater.
Pour the tea, my father said, and I pressed my fingers
against the lid to keep from spilling. Not one small drop.
After the pile of black boar bristles was wiped from the plate
and the last persimmon speared and swallowed,
after the blankets had been unrolled and my father’s breath steadied,
I pressed my spine into the warm floor where the coals had burned.
Counting the breaths in the dark, my fingers crept lightly
across the floor and against my father’s calloused palm,
willing his lifeline to grow long as a stream
of tea poured green and steaming and smelling of herbs.
MARCI CALABRETTA CANCIO-BELLO is the author of Hour of the Ox, winner of the AWP Donald Hall Prize for Poetry. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from The Adroit Journal, Best New Poets, The Georgia Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Narrative Magazine, and elsewhere. She serves as a program coordinator for Miami Book Fair and producer for The Working Poet Radio Show.