Learning How to Chew

I found the finest razor, scraped
the enamel from my teeth, removed

their layers like garlic skin. Took the pliers
from the bottom drawer, wrapped their rust

against my crowns and pulled until their only
sound was muffle and murmur. For 16 years

I bit at my lips, afraid that a trace of her
was left. I wanted to forget the first mouth

that met my own. When she tells me
she misses me, her little brother, I place

a blade against my tongue, work the edge
until I can swallow it whole. I don’t trust

mouths anymore, the way they wander
in the absence of light. Trickster of a tale,

the way family lies itself into silence—truth
a tricky thing, like learning how to chew,

it’s all in remembering not to bite your cheek.
To never have to taste the blood of your own

mistake. My family has mastered this etiquette,
quiet is the only meal to fit in their throats.