Janine Joseph

              for Aba

Bourdain, in the rerun, says the king of fruit’s Camembert-like

              custard smells of sun-spoilt death, but the phrase she recalls is

dead grandmother, which bites my tongue. How does anyone forget

              ever eating, ever excavating from the pale lobes of the foie gras

fruit, she gasps. We finish the rest of our attachment with this mis-

              giving, googling images of thorned husks bisected like my own

human brain. Impossible, to her, to sample, then overwrite the funk.

              Impossible, to her, that the Janine I was was ram-rattled into the

Janine I am now. When the concussion receded, I journeyed across

              kame and kettle in my habit of skin, immigrant again in this after

life of a life without my grandmother tongue. In Lake Lillian I pressed

              my forehead, but nothing natural bore me. I dub her monochrome

now with noise. Ang Doktora, Principe Te-

                                                                          ñoso, Anak

                                                                                               ng Kidlat — her whole

oeuvre voiced over with what I have left. How does anyone forget?

              Pollen-yellow, the odious pulp I can’t qualify on my taste buds. How

quick my mouth went dry. At the reunion, we extend the butterfly leaf,

              reminisce around the table, and in all my stories she is a monolingual

sitcom grandma. When I sketch the time she didn’t know it was me

              telephoning, I flush with my hands two fluencies, the punch line

undermined. Even their memories, my memory devours into this

              vanisher language. How does anyone do anything, I stop asking

when I board the plane. In this life, I exist awake until the altitude change

              exhumes me. Where did she go, where did I go in that rest. I’ve heard it’s

xenoglossy, what happened next: I heard through the pane, faint as

              zodiacal light, her voice in the air beyond where the body went down.


about the author