Once when I was five she offered
her teeth to me, her smile

a salmon, her bread-soft hands pointing,
laughing at the emptiness of a mouth,

then slid them back, delighted.
This is not her homeland. Her language

can’t tell me the story of the teeth
or give them to me, can’t pour grains

of them, like rice, shattering into a pot.
Those done bones, where did they go?

Now we walk in the whisper of corn
rowed in her back yard. She cradles

its fruit then yanks quick from the stalk,
peels the husk to small, compact kernels.

This is what she offers, not the wisdom
of words, but the care of growing

something that can nourish. Some thing
that starts underneath and rises,

blossoms, carries its seeds, is created
to be consumed. The sun slices through

those desiccated stalks, the sweet milk
strains underneath.
~ ~ ~

Alexandra Umlas is from Long Beach, CA and currently lives in Huntington Beach with her husband and two daughters. She has an MFA in Poetry from California State University, Long Beach and an M.Ed. in Education with an emphasis in Cross-Cultural Teaching. You can find her work at http://www.alexumlas.com