Uncles

By Janice Lobo Sapigao

The Bud Light crystallizing in the freezer
Hides high above a child’s reach

The Uncles table sits in the backyard of my mother’s house parties
The beer and barbecue footnote their good time

I go to greet them like daughter, like niece, like good girl,
They say. Like grown woman now, they say.

At what age did uncles stop seeing me as a little girl
Since when did they dress up my growth with their pick-up lines?

Each word sharpening a knife of bedside manner
Each nervous laugh covering up the names of women who don’t stay

Oh you’re a teacher now? They repeat with bedroom eyes
Teach me, they say. To my classroom, they say, I want to come.

The pork belly on the table I used to draw on as a kid
Curls in the cold air, sausage cackling char on the grill

Flatlining my red lips I paint for myself
My voice a fire extinguisher

Against all the family men who pretend family means
Things I can get away with

A myth of fragility trapping too many girls
Forced to call mercy

Each beer sip    a squeal silenced
Each man still a swine on the spit