Elegy for the Overgrown Tastebud

Sarah Swinford

Back and forth:
the swish-swash-swish
of baby teeth and mucosa
was all I remembered before waking
in the hospital, tongue
smooth like ice cream. Post-op
an angel statue: hands prayerful,
wings a sparkling lavender-
pink. At home, the cat cleaned
himself. I was too old for pacifiers,
too young to sing on the stage
at church. Maybe that papillae
would have given me my mother’s
voice, smooth harmony,
alto, ever-gliding through pews
and stereos. Or my sister’s,
strong & powerful, deserving
of every choir solo and song.
Maybe, I would be a natural cook—
know the difference between curry
and cumin. Make chocolate chip
cookies that don’t crumble
at my touch. Maybe, French
would have been easier,
or learning how to pronounce double rs
in la tierra, rolling in the dirt
beneath tent roofs, birch trees,
and orange underwings—
when the camp counselor
told us of the burning shoulders
of pentecost, translations on fire—
did she know that my tongue
was already scorched?


Author Bio


Sarah Swinford was raised somewhere between a small town in Northern Germany and the suburbs of Houston, Texas. She first began writing and performing her poems at a German poetry slam club and has previously worked on Glass Mountain Magazine. Sarah holds a BA in English from the University of Houston and is currently pursuing her MEd at the University of Houston – Victoria. Her work has appeared in The Rappahannock Review, Gigantic Sequins, and The Sierra Nevada Review.