The Brewing Storm is a Quiet Strong
Audrey L. Reyes
How anger earthquakes across teeth; there is a devastation
cracking fillers open. This filthy, filthy mouth filed
thin to mottled edges. Woman promises the dentist
she’ll get in touch; she doesn’t. Woman promises
her lover she’ll be better, less critical, and more
patient. But she isn't—at least, not yet. It’s hard
to unlearn what you’ve been fed. The dinner table is thick
with insults and grime to feast on. Lick the fucking plate clean.
Woman’s parents used to dress up each mouthful of fury
like airplanes landing on the strip of her tongue. They were
always too salty—even starvation didn’t dare accept prayer.
What a pity to take pity in your own filth, filth. Could we install
a water filter on the tap? Could you get the roof fixed? The owner says
no and bathes Woman’s tongue with tar-thick coffee to keep her
from begging. How dare she ask for better? What they serve for
dinner is a gift to be thankful for. Because they say so, now
you do, too. On Woman’s way out, file her teeth dry and
padlock her mouth shy of a week. The last dentist
told Woman her gums bled from all the worlds she carried down
her neck. Woman’s then masseuse, a kindly blind lady, told her to
keep coming back each week to free the ghosts
making bed across her shoulders. She came ‘round and round and
came ‘round, until she didn’t. But Woman still wonders how she
is doing. If her tired hands are still as soft and well-meaning. If
she still gets to play music on her days off like she used to
for an audience she doesn't know if she pleases. It’s been hard
to get near anyone. All these deaths sure keep tabs on distance.
Last night, when Woman’s lower teeth shook in anger, it was
the closeness that got to her. Can we fucking get out
of the hell that this year has lit alive? This hard swallow is frozen
down Woman’s throat. A stout kettle, burned black, shrieking and
shrieking; the stove bore a hole across the base, too hard a swallow.
Woman’s body is boiling pressure to keep her mouth kind, kinder.
About the Author
Audrey L. Reyes (she/her) is a Filipino poet, writer, and former early childhood educator whose favorite workplace activity is raising hell. Her work appears or is forthcoming in QUINCE Magazine, NECTAR, Anti-Heroin Chic, and several other literary magazines. She resides in Manila, Philippines.