After Cooking Class, Cuernavaca
i threw la sopa down the well/left the group/got lost/loused my happiness/downstreet/ hard gray/piedras, snake word/wrong alley/the calles had no dictionary/like one i kept at home/five pounds calibrating the scale/i wore a string-strapped top/pappus soft/i had none bollo rolls, no pan dulce, nada crumbs/to lose, but so close/i becoming the last lost/flame/white pants, spike heels/lettuce water lips/lechuga/my vocabulary had me/fat with words/palabras /menu de langue/languor/when you taste nothing/read: salud/cars coming/coches/barred from alleys/oranger a la minuto/wheelbarrow belled with silver skulls/skirts and sombreros punched in tin lanterns/i reviewed/iceberg confetti, blanched chihuahua/blinked mascara/my own birthmark/mattered me/i counted so i could/wipe myself off/start again/to lesson starves/star by that pool/on the roof of the library/where the gutters smelled so/sodden books and candy i didn't know was papaya/living like i let myself/on coffee trident/even the foil felt dusty, aspartame ancient/how daft punk kept trying/to tunnel into my dreams/soul blue and pesos/the more i spent the lighter i grew/if luz isn't a cognate/i don't know/the men wore suits/rosada/and black shirts/open to the chest/they wanted hair/i had a lot/sun-brassed/orange sunken red/like our class's tomatoes/griddled, ablister/black split at the seams/the teacher snugged a knife/along the equator of an avocado/demoed the pit/thwack/i took my stomach out the equation/sucked in recipes/morals/biometrics/ good parts/i liked being mistaken/for a trick/it meant i could practice/lip lining/ pocket emptying/disappearing dinner plates/serving myself/whatever/tasas/vasas/servietas
JoAnna Novak is the author of the novel I Must Have You (2017), the book-length poem Noirmania (2018), and the poetry collection Abeyance, North America. Her work has appeared in publications including The Paris Review, The New York Times, the Washington Post, Salon, Guernica, and BOMB. She is a co-founder of the literary journal and chapbook publisher, Tammy.