Once I entered into a symbiotic relationship with a praying mantis, wings folded
at our altar of Queen Anne’s lace. There is wine on the table—father, please don’t
let the calf bleed on me. I have seen the insides of heifers as rugged as the grain
of our wooden table where I slice tomatoes and you bring in half the vineyard.
You know girls the way you pretend to get drunk in the monastery
of your body. When two people kiss, they look like diving birds returning for air.
When two people look like almond halves, they rise buoyant on the crusts
of bread. Once I believed you could slit a cow’s throat and wipe your hands
on your jeans. Once, we scythed the barley. Once, we drank wine
on the altar and for a summer, our mouths turned as plump as grapes.
Alicia Lai’s work has appeared in The Kenyon Review, National Poetry Quarterly, Curio Poetry, and elsewhere. She is founder and editor of The Postscript Journal, an international literary magazine for students. Her honors include selection as a 2014 U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts. She currently attends Princeton University.