When Trying to Create a Distraction from the Food Falling off My Fork

I bring up how otters hold hands
when they sleep together so they won’t float
away from each other during the night. That fact does its job,
the ice is now broken. I think it is cute, she thinks

I am being weird again. I bring up how most of the time
squirrels forget where they hide their nuts, she makes a quick
quip about how many men do, too. The awkward
silence strikes back. I try to eat and unconsciously smack

my lips when taking the first bite. I barely notice the sound
until she rolls her eyes, as if I said her dress made her look fat,
as if I wouldn’t still love her larger. She asks
about my family at the convenient moment that they cross

my mind. I tell her about my niece, her mouth a microwave, always
popping like her teeth are made out of bags
of popcorn. She smacks her lips loudly
when she eats, snores loudly when she naps, and oh god

does she talk like a tornado siren. Every morning she has to share
everything with me before school when my blankets are heaven
sent and all I want to do is bask in them. When she comes in
quiet as a mute mouse I’m sure something has taken

away her joy, and although I’ve found
peace the need to ask what’s wrong still lingers
like an overcast shadow covering the room. When she says
she thought about how tired I am in the morning, how she never

considered that she was one of the things keeping me
up I have no choice but to give in to my compulsion to hug
her in that moment. Victories, like planets come in all shapes and sizes,
from learning how to walk to learning

when your uncle doesn’t care
about the new dance your friends taught you. I tell my date
all of this and she laughs at the quirkiness of it all. When
we continue enjoying dinner I don’t bring up

any more random facts, let my fear of the silence
fade. She cracks a smile in my direction, the victory,
small but significant and for once
I don’t hide giving her a smile back.

Deonte Osayande is writer from Detroit, Mi. His poems have been published in over a dozen literary journals. He is a two time member of the Detroit National Poetry Slam Team and a poetry reader for The Adroit Journal and Scissors and Spackle. He also teaches creative writing through the Inside Out Detroit program and is a Professor of English at Wayne County Community College. He spends his time fighting narcolepsy, and often losing.

See another poem by Osayande in Issue 3.1