Bread & Fish

Timothy McNeil Grant

My mother used to hold my lips between her palms,

mashing them into the shape of a kiss.

She’d tell me to say

bread & fish

            bread & fish

& we would laugh the entire time at it,

how I struggled to form the words.

When I started to hold the conviction of age,

we spent hours in curses

at each other, listening to the steam

of our breath, hot in the air,

intertwining as quickly as it


I have let my tongue touch the roof

of my mouth to agree with your point

of being & trying

to put things aside.

It’s easier

that way.

Mother, what I want to say is

I forgive you

            I forgive you

for losing the joy of my errors

that you used to hold in your soft hands,

for my choices, the whiskers on my chin

that grew

& sheared like sandpaper,

for the trampled sounds of childhood.

Timothy McNeil Grant is a freelance writer living in the Mission District of San Francisco, California. He spends his days creating poetry, running up and down the city’s many hills, and enjoying the company of his wife, Kelly, and their two dogs, Ava and Maia.

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