her child would never know the damp of hunger in his bones

illustration of a mother and sun as silhouettes, eating burgers and fries with blue waves in the background
Art by Kristina Closs

I Tell My Mother About My Depression

by Eric Tran

She is ashamed of my seasickness,
her son, bled down from boat people.

We are kidding, of course: between waves
and prayers to Mercy, she swore

her child would never know
the damp of hunger in his bones.

She wanted him fat like clay
and just as soft. In college, I lost

ten pounds of myself and half
the words she sang to me as a baby.

The aunties cooed my new frame
but she was silent, both of us famished

for the words we meant. I say 
I’m sad from sun to sun

and her response is a crisp
twenty for the quiet burger joint

we visited when I was young
and never talked, or didn’t need

words, our mouths and bellies
singing the same full rhythm.

from The Gutter Spread Guide to Prayer