Amanda Leal

Pine Row Issue No. 3 Spring 2021 - Featured Poet

His Inquisition

In my bedroom, after work, we slide beneath the comforter

and lull in the flicker of the television, Super Mario videos,

my son's curls that each individually

bend a bow of light, the sooty blonde turning white

as though christened. His eyelashes swoop downward,

the slope of his nose, the heart shape of his facial structure

all closing, a golden corolla puckering shut

for the night. I think of the evenings that he is at his father's house,

sleeping on the cotton sheets printed with Super Mario,

mushrooms the size of his head, the whizzing

sighs in his sleep, like a bough fallen

in the forest. He exists in that life as though in an alternate

universe, I cannot know the blueprint of his thoughts,

as when he was an infant, at my breast the size of a honeydew,

the strong pulls at my body as though steering a mast,

the deep wrinkles of his forehead, his concentration

toward nothing but survival, the way I would unlatch

by sliding my smallest finger into the corner of his mouth,

as he slept beside me with pink lips still shaped

to a nipple, kneading the air as he dreamt.

Now, he lays beside me in the blue wash of the television,

his finger in his nostril screwing upward,

the way he crushes an ant beneath his thumb.

Chocolate milk crusts his upper lip,

and I realize he is growing into imperfection,

the way he raises his finger to the LCD light, the silhouette

of his mucus like a small planet on his fingertip. He casts his eyes

to me, deep as resin, his irises ringed and shining,

as he offers me his finger, and I recognize this next stage,

his inquisition, the way he stretches his palm

as though giving me a world. I lick my finger, scrub the residue

from his upper lip, the dark brown rolling off like dried blood.

I cannot follow him into the world, but I brush off his fingers,

I gather his curls to the crown of his scalp, cooling

the brown stretch of his neck, I preen him for a lifetime

that neither of us can know, as we wait for sleep

in the halo of the television, as though awaiting the future,

the rise and fall of his chest crested with light,

the way light rolls off his lips, the landscape of his cheek bones,

the curdle of water from his aquarium, our images

in the dark silver of the vanity mirror

as though suspended in a lobe,

our bodies unchanging in this moment,

the dusk like a cloak over our greyed silhouette.

Interview with Amanda Leal

by Pine Row Editorial Board

Amanda Leal is a 27 year old poet from Lake Worth, FL. Her work has been featured or is forthcoming in issues of Sky Island Journal, Haunted Waters Press, Levee Magazine, and others.