John A. Nieves

John A. Nieves
John A. Nieves is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Missouri. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as Redivider, Minnesota Review, Florida Review, Fugue and California Quarterly. He spends way too much time thinking about borders, Old English poetry and Post-War American Fiction.


Bonecold in the corner with an old cup of tea,
I run my pointer along the arch
of an antique pick axe. Its grooves fit excavations
somewhere darker than here, sometime
when progress could be measured in feet.
On the counter, three cloves of garlic huddle

with an onion and a nearly spent loaf
of rye. I recite stories to the window, watch
my breath expand and contract, obscure
the ice on the lawn. I tell it one I read of a young
woman in a narrow aisle brought to tears by the choice
between two cans of tomatoes: one fine, one
cheap—the difference between a good meal

and a good night's sleep. Then I tell another
about her: how a year later she would be caught
trying to smuggle that same fruit through
airport security somewhere tropical, the secret
slice stowed on a sandwich. How with circumstances
so drastically rearranged, the same desire was elemental,
was still the thing she yearned to bring home.

My words dance for a moment on the frostlace
before clarity returns. Snow angles across a street
light. The only noise: the sound of doors closing.
Opening is a gentler affair. The tomato
on the cutting board, looks quietly at itself,
reflected along the length of my knife.