Duties

by Elisa Gonzalez

Elisa Gonzalez is Puerto Rican, the oldest of seven siblings, and was raised in Ohio. She graduated with a B.A. in English literature from Yale University and is currently enrolled in New York University’s MFA program in creative writing. She, predictably, now lives in Brooklyn.

That time she told me to put the lobster
in the pot because she couldn’t stand to kill it herself,

my face composed
so as not to reflect my sins,

and the water boiled imperiously
waiting for the lobster, which was brown and green,
surprisingly so, but not grotesque,

not something that shouldn’t be eaten
so I understood why it needed to be placed
in the deep gleaming pot, still tied up with strings

around the claws, as it was in the shop
so that it would remain whole and unmarred
throughout the process of heating
the water and the lobster together—

the more the lobster boils, the less it seems plausible
that the pot could encompass
everything that needs to fit inside, even though it is just water
and lobster, nothing more necessary

to ensure the whole thing turns out properly.
It’s as if we didn’t know what was under the lid,
as if we threw in cardamom and sea-salt, balsamic vinegar
tainted with oils, raw sugar.

But we couldn’t have; there are directions to the making.
Love your mother as yourself, harm no one, pay no attention to the faces

made in the mirrored wall of the pot, the mouth rounded
to practice the look of screaming, then smoothed.

 


Elisa Gonzalez is Puerto Rican, the oldest of seven siblings, and was raised in Ohio. She graduated with a B.A. in English literature from Yale University and is currently enrolled in New York University’s MFA program in creative writing. She, predictably, now lives in Brooklyn.

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