Back to Issue Thirty-Four

I Worry My Mother Will Die and I Will Know Nothing


Sometimes, history is too beautiful to be believed.
Until dinnertime, my grandmother sold gardenias

wrapped in banana leaves. Then, she found
better ways to earn a living. Years later, at an

American restaurant, I’m mistaken for a waitress
wearing all my silk. An accident I knew in my body

like the pride I felt when my adult mother said
I have narrow feet. Mother warns me, Nothing will

change. I’m alive and you don’t know anything.
It was winter when my mother spoke, apples

rolling in the backseat, the fragrance shifting off-
site under the great deterrent of rain. It’s still winter,

with a brown leaf staining my work
slacks. I smell the tea olives working up

spring (or the luxury of that kind of thinking
in January) when I explain to another

that my lunch wasn’t useful. All my life,
I’ve wanted to lay with my stomach to the grass.

I’ve wanted to eat from community gardens.
I wrote a lie I’ll admit now. I didn’t eat

the municipal fruit. I bought the Cosmic Crisp
over the Honeycrisp for a dollar surcharge because

I wanted extra shelf life. The last day of the week, I split it
to decide if it’s for sharing or eating whole. It’s a luxury

to have your hunger. I’m sure I don’t need to
go back, but can we go back to the restaurant? I am laughing

with the woman at the table next to mine about the woman
who would have me serve while I celebrate. She was going

to eat one dish, and I’ve ordered five. You know
I’ll still leave hungry because I don’t tell you

what I eat. See the phoenix with its mouth and feet grasping
for two servings? I am where I come from.


Asa Drake is a Filipina American writer and public services librarian in Central Florida. She has received fellowships from Tin House and Idyllwild Arts and was recently announced as one of the winners for the 92Y Discovery Poetry Contest. Her most recent poems are published or forthcoming in Copper Nickel, Epiphany and The Paris Review Daily.


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