“Holiday Parties”

Listen to Victoria Chang reading this poem. Every holiday my parents search
for a cure for eating too much
for me. Their six steps to flawless skin
turn to seven, eight, nine, when theysee mine. My sister and I parade
through parties, looking for little
pies to nibble on. The nearly-thirty
and still single crowd collects,watching our watches, spreads
of neatly lined figs, punch,
boring conversation, dish of spirits,
a rug I keep tripping over.We shake each boy’s hand and smile.
I love how faithfully the snacks
are always laid out, watermelon seeds,
dried plums, shrimp chips,in serving boats, buoyed by beginning.
How long will it stay afloat?
They all think we need to be saved.
Maybe they’re right. Maybe I’ve alreadywon the tourniquet. I only think
of the man in the white truck.
I wish I could tell my mother about him,
preferably with a walkie-talkie.That way I won’t have to see
her face spool suddenly with bruises
when I tell her he does decorative
tiling (yes, construction). I’ve nevertold her I have a hidden talent
for loving men with only three chambers
in the heart, his salted lips,
iron aftertaste of an imagined kiss.