after Richard Siken

Hey, Mr. Bagel


Alexandre was an omelette. Can you believe we’re starting with an omelette? But we must. It was the first breakfast food I truly loved. Crumbled feta cheese, arugula with spinach, mushrooms pan fried with garlic. Eggs swishing around the whisk. Balls that swish from our rackets. Alexandre, new to the tennis group in Michigan. I drove 40 minutes to play there, crossing a state line. He was living in a tiny Michigan town of 2,000 on his semester abroad from Switzerland. He was objectively the hottest person I’d ever met at 17 years of age. I followed him around the courts, stars in my eyes. I sat with him on the curb for 30 minutes after practice, just talking. Every part of me, a fluffy, egg-beaten cloud. Like I could float whenever I saw him. I would devour that time, again. Would do anything to drizzle a light glaze or reduction atop my feast, feel that flutter, find myself soaring.


Stacks of pancakes, syrup oozing, dripping, melted butter in the corners of my mouth. We would

fuck in our basements while our parents weren’t home. Or sometimes they were home, but we

gambled they wouldn’t come down to check on us. We were so bold. We were passionate together. My mother made blueberry pancakes from scratch my entire life when I had friends stay over. The science of them. How everyone who ate them would rave to me about it for years after. Couldn’t quite forget the taste.


Gabe was oatmeal.


Bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon. Joe, in my arms, told me he wasn’t circumcised. I said I didn’t

care, and I didn’t. Still, it was new. We spent a week in each other. Bacon is the best breakfast food. And boy, does it linger. Joe said, after the first week, everything felt too fast, let’s just be friends. So we spent every day together for months, as “friends,” but the whole time, I wanted the salt on my tongue. The fat, pressed against me. One smell and I was waiting for it again, but it never came. It lingered, I had to light a candle. Had to set the couch on fire. Had to cough from the smoke and escape. Shove open the door. I don’t remember the hallways.

5, 6, 7

grapefruit, mango, a bowl of blueberries and strawberries. I love the tang of grapefruit curdling my mouth. I have special spoons for it. The mango curled from my knives, pieces I would dangle. How berries parade through refrigerators, dance and bounce in strainers. My turquoise and yellow ceramic bowls, just for them. But these fruits need accompaniment. More sides. I’m not saying they aren’t important. I’m saying I needed them and I needed so much more.


There’s always a final taste. There’s always the biggest bite. Of course. It’s a bagel. Hey, my bagel. My everything. My egg, pumpernickel, never plain. I bought some salmon outfits. My room, hued in pink. I didn’t need anything else. He said when we first met, he’d never been more worried that he met a serial killer on grindr. That I was too warm, too fast. He said I was

obsessed with superlatives. I used to avoid my feelings, to add drama that shrouded me, like a cloak. But with him, it was all real. Too safe. Too sexual. Too hungry. Too held. Too crushed. Too much of a burst, the capers. Too spicy on your tongue, red onion. You are striking my tongue like the acid of a tomato. Sprinkle me into your eggs. We’re not at the same table, but we are forever baby. The thickest cream cheese, clotting our lungs. Don’t breathe. Don’t exhale. Don’t leave me again. Just swallow.