To the Discarded Corn Husks Lying on the Kitchen Table After Christmas Dinner


"Fallen Petals" by Stephen Briseño

To the Discarded Corn Husks Lying on the Kitchen Table After Christmas Dinner

by Stephen Briseño

You are el jefe

of items important

yet overlooked:

the snapped bones

of chopsticks left

in the phở bowl,

the butcher paper,

muted blood red,

soaking up the grease

a fatty brisket gives,

the bright cap

of a Topo Chico.

Then there’s you.

You are tamale’s girdle,

cinching just tight enough,

promising:

“Hold in there--

the steam es solo un momento;

y’all will be glorious once we’re done!”

In time before,

you were womb

to the ear

which, after drying,

soaking, then grinding

is now reborn within your veil.

Tonight, you are Christmas wrapping,

hiding gifts we’ve already peeked at

but relish shucking

open nonetheless.

Just how the living room, confettied with shards of paper

and love, is a sign of the season, so are you,

your scattered remains of tradition on the table,

marinated in generations of guelitas and tías with knobby

hands mixing masa, cinching nuestra familia together

in the ferocious steam of another year,

promising: “Hold in there-- y’all will be glorious once we’re done!”

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Stephen Briseño is a poet and middle school English teacher. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Mentor Mixtapes, 8Poems, formercactus, Riddled with Arrows, and Right Hand Pointing. He lives in San Antonio, TX with his wife and daughter, where you can usually find them lounging at a coffee shop. Follow him on Twitter: @stephen_briseno