When I think of a good meal,
I do consider my mother first.
Her face over a popping skillet
dipping white gold buttermilk
slivers of catfish in cornmeal.
Meanwhile my father,
overhearing her joy somehow,
bakes salmon and potatoes,
grills slabs of baby back ribs
and roasts whole hens and fresh grouper
he buys from his guy
at the market. He wraps the boiled
white necks of thin turkeys in string,
lowers them gently into
green waters off the pier, a
Texan baptism blessed by John himself.
The blue crabs are fat and stupid.
He uses his hands to break
their bodies in half for broth.
It was a beautiful childhood and
I have no crosses.
My mother, dropping fish
in roiling oil, turns towards me
to say, “I killed every damn animal
your daddy ever cooked. I tended
She burns all of our food
It turns rich and black in
our mouths like chocolate.
I begin here beholden to Vermont,
the skin on my ribs and wrists thin as wind.
Sweet Vermont verdant and slow to wake won’t
you hold me where I was denied? Love-child
of Creation and Boundary. Return
to me each June deeper and fuller June.
No man may take smoke mountain from me nor
green no transphobe could deny me the breadth
of my body draped alongside the fields
as gargantuan as Goliath as
stupefying as a sunset caught in
the reflection of water on my face.
When I fled the violence of three letters,
I found myself in the clearing small-small.
Taylor Alyson Lewis is a Black, trans poet originally from Atlanta. He was the recipient of the 2020 MVICW Queer Writer Fellowship in Prose and the 2017 Edith A. Hambie Poetry Prize sponsored by the Academy of American Poets. He has poems in Auburn Avenue and Voicemail Poems.