Coiled on your plate,

a harlequinned ring of

beheaded, de-bodied flesh,


adorned with tiny twin wings

of spiny skin,

ruffled fans, as if flight still

were possible.

You dissect it, this

filigreed semi-serpent, feather

through neck muscle to find

the most delicate part,

a tender sliver

walled off by membrane.

Your chopsticks reach

for my mouth.

I take the warm white tangle

with my teeth and tongue,

let you feed me intimacy,


You must know

what you do


when you see me smile

you do it again.

Cheryl A. Ossola is senior editor at Dance Studio Life, a writer for San Francisco Ballet, a member of the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, and a former associate editor at Dance Magazine. She’s working on a novel and a poetry collection, plotting a middle-grade book, and regarding her reading list with despair. She holds an MFA in writing from the University of San Francisco—in longform fiction, not poetry, but as USF instructor Lewis Buzbee likes to say, novels and poetry have much in common. Visit her at