McDonald’s pancakes sink
the only place to eat
this breakfast before the 6 am bus
this dinner once it drops you off late
never for you, for them on odd days
who live under your roof?
Your son in the Navy to go sea
where you only dream of
maybe you’d call that attachment
only remembering in photos
before you passed up college
staying back with kids
the age of five, a little more
not yours on the way
they all learn to hold their breath
a skill you lost when
you kissed air to your mother and
the kids leave you in the bedroom
for preferences are a luxury too
make brief lives in toothy exchanges

under syrup
for miles
children hope
it will be enough food
for their sibling’s children
who’s daddy somewhere
outside of this food desert
sunk in so much
he forget what home is
lying in a coffin rack’s whiteness
no room for self or cleansing water
only the salt of depths
panicked drowning and fearing death
not his but take it anyway
at a young age
just old enough to no longer be a teen
all fossilized in sap
reminiscing trading free milk
soon your family will be unable to afford to
after air leaves your mother as they do too

Kalidas Shanti ’22 is a staff writer
Karen Liu ’23 is a staff writer