What did you learn in school today, the bored mom asked her teenage son at the dinner table
not looking up from her phone
not noticing quiet tears falling on shuffled peas.
How to multiply polynomials, conjugate in the subjunctive, how violently sudden the last gasp of air comes to the bullet-holed classmate, how it feels to be expendable, grieving, and let down all at once. That was never on the syllabus or the glossy website. Forget being fruitful and multiplying when we don’t even know what X is. Forget wishing and hoping when we shed (others’) blood for the correct version of hypothetical. We are willing to (let someone else) die for what we are (not) willing to sacrifice. Don’t ever tell me to be bold again if this is what it looks like.
But before any of the words came out, she was back on the agenda. Business as usual.
“No, mom, I don’t need any fucking salt.”
©2018, Amaya Engleking