“I’m Convinced You Actually Liked the Whole Wheat Pancakes” by Danielle Lisa

Danielle Lisa


for Mom

Remember the first apartment we chose? When it was time
for us to finally live together and we had to find something fast
and imperfect. With the landlord who barged in every time we were too 
loud—I think she had an 8 p.m. bedtime. It was stomaching that,
and then the new school, where I had to wear a uniform
and listen to classmates brag about how much money 
daddy spent on them. In Spanish class, we were assigned
to draw a diagram of our homes, labeling each space. 
I thought nothing of our four rooms, until hands started
to rise, small voices asking, “What’s the Spanish spelling
for movie theater?” Apparently, some of them had skate 
parks. That’s when it got hard to get me to school. I 
remember it well: your relentless hands around my relentless 
ankles. Every morning, you pulled, and I fought, until 
it was too late to catch the bus, and you had to drive me.
And every morning, you gave me a bowl of Agave syrup, with 
some whole wheat pancakes swimming inside. You acted
like you hated them, but each morning, when I held the bowl 
in my hands like just being near them was wrong, you’d 
have me pass them up front and you’d suck them down in seconds. 
I’ll never forget when I asked you one of my first sex 
questions, and you replied with, “I don’t know, Google it.”
But it was that morning of 6th grade when I didn’t want to 
go to school, so you wrote a note that began with, 
“Danielle’s under the weather,” and justified it to me with, 
“Well … there’s weather happening above us,” that I first knew 
living together was going to be an adventure, which is always 
what I wanted most of all, not love, or happiness, just something 
to talk about, which (at some point) translated to writing. 
I wasn’t sure where anything would take us, but look at here. 
What we have built together. I can say anything, and 
nothing rattles. You can say anything, and what we
have stands still. We can climb on it, threaten it, light
it on fire, but the beast we built just yawns, and we go 
quietly on, in our (sometimes covert) little ways of 
loving one another. I’m twenty-five, and you push me
onto the sidewalk when a car comes. Always desperate
to save my life, not knowing you already did. 

from Rattle #83, Spring 2024


Danielle Lisa: “At the age of two, I had a bad fall. I cried and cried. Nothing my mom did was calming me down until, in her attempts to say something comforting, she happened to use two words that rhymed. The crying stopped instantly, as I repeated the words back in awe. She knew in that moment that her daughter was a poet. Now at 26, poetry doesn’t get me to stop crying; it makes me start. It has been a lifeline. My dream is to write full-time, but for now, I will continue to work office jobs and sneak off to the bathroom whenever an idea strikes.”

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