After Separation the Kitchen Fills After separation the kitchen fills with the air of longing; the body a prayer searching for communion with the light of what’s missing. Is all unattainable? I am she who waits by the stove warming my hands over the blue flame in the absence of you. The iron skillet is too heavy to hold; the oil carries me, weeping to olive groves, to the color of your eyes. There is a heat I cannot bear but will. We have never met and yet, I hear your voice in the lone crow beyond the window calling out for the murder where it belongs.
Breakfast with Flower in Small Vase Ranunculus such a highbrow sound for a whorl of yellow plump but Late Latin for little frog Persian Buttercup draft of green near the eye we are both sipping our tea [ran-the nun-from-uncle’s-oculus!] “I am dazzled by your charms”
It’s All the Same Appetites
A guy on Haight shoves a flyer at me. “You know you’re hungry!” He hawks. “Hungry!” I glance at the new Indian eatery before waving him off. He repeats (to someone close behind): “you know you’re hungry! Hungry!” A few steps more and another voice . . . luscious French accent and all. Walking in Quebec city, the day before he raced his catamaran back over the Atlantic to St. Malo; how he held my hand—tight like the rigging of a driving sail.
“I’m HUNGRY!” He declared, stopping for a moment on the cobblestones. His body was lean and taut; even his tendons gripped my reserve. “We’ll eat,” I offered. “No, No, Not zat hungry, ze ozarr hungry!” He tried harder. “Hangry!” Seems his crew mate had pissed him off. “Oh . . . you’re A-N-G-R-Y,” I articulated (a little lesson for my future elocution).
Sex that night was a resplendent storm. I was a white gull drifting on the sea by dawn. The boats embarked at mid-morning—fit to be tied in the fanfare—I never saw him again. Now the two words circle in my mind like sharks. HungryAngryHungryAngryHungry. HANGRY!—what if we all just fast together for a while and float . . .
VIRGINIA BARRETT is a poet and artist whose books include I Just Wear My
Wings (Jambu Press, 2013) and Singing My Naked Lines (PoetSong Press).
She is also the editor of two anthologies of contemporary San Francisco
poets, Feather Floating on the Water—poems for our children and OCCUPY
SF—poems from the movement (with Bobby Coleman). A teaching-artist in San
Francisco city schools, Virginia is also the co-founder of the annual We
Are All Poets youth poetry/civics program in collaboration with the San
Francisco Main Library. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative
Writing at the University of San Francisco, where she was the poetry editor
of Switchback from 2014-2015.
She had always been very conscientious when it came to the coffee she made. It was her father’s favourite, and her mother bragged about it to relatives every time they came over.
“She makes the best coffee I’ve ever tasted.”
She made it often, and each time, with distinct, precise movements. Her fingers barely moved except when she went to grasp the bottle of coffee, or the pan she boiled water in. Her wrists moved. The swished in the air, and the bones twisted ever so slightly under her skin. Her face held no expression as she measured out the coffee and sugar into a little glass bowl. Equal amounts of each, the spoon leveled off. She kept that aside solely for this purpose, and it irked her when anyone else touched it.
She added precisely one and a half teaspoons of warm water to it, and a little line formed on her brow as she furrowed it in concentration. The mixture had to be whipped perfectly, till it was a pale, pale brown, and almost double in the space it occupied. It had to be done with measured whisks, till the spoon was tough to move through it. She thought of it like a sorceress unraveling the secrets of the runes in her hand, like she unraveled the coffee till it unspooled and gave off the aroma she was looking for.
She did this till her wrist ached just a tiny bit- that was her cue. That was when she knew she had to move to the next step. She filled the pan with half a cup of water, and the same amount of milk, save three teaspoons. The ratio had been polished to perfection after years of practice, and she steamed the milk just till it started to rise and froth. Lowering the flame as she did, she picked up the bowl once more, and gave the coffee mix precisely 7 swirls before she transferred it into the coffee mug.
It was her favourite mug, white, covered in blue Paisleys that reminded her of her mother’s dupattas and sultry summer afternoons in Delhi. The next step always unnerved her. She was rather clumsy, after all. She held the mug in her left hand, arched a little to the right, and picked up the pan with her right. Pouring slowly, she let the milk arc into the mug as she raised the pan away from it. She felt like an alchemist creating gold, much like she created beauty out of mundane ingredients.
She waited till the last drop fell into the mug before she critically analyzed the final product in front of her. Perfect amount of froth, just peaking through the rim, just a hint of brown on white, and the smell that reminded her of home. It was perfect. Again.
The next day, she started the entire process. Slow, deliberate movements. Suddenly, she stopped.
The milk and water boiled over.
Her shoulders, tiny and rounded, shook slightly as she saw the pan getting burnt.
Her mother rushed in as she smelled the now-acrid milk. This wasn’t like her daughter. It couldn’t be.
She shook her daughter’s shoulders till the spoon dropped from her hand. Turning her face towards he’s, she didn’t see tears.
She saw hysterical laughter.
She was laughing.
Harder than she had before.
“It’s perfect.”, she said.
“It’s fucking perfect.”
HARNIDH KAUR is currently pursuing her Masters in Public Policy from St.
Xavier’s College, Mumbai. Her first book, The Inability of Words, is called
so because for all that she’s written, she still has more to speak of. She
debuted #1 in poetry on Amazon India. She currently edits poetry for
Inklette Magazine, and has been published in Textploit, EPW, Brown Girl
Magazine, Postcolonial Text, Amarillo Bay, The Four Quarters Magazine among
Submissions open for Clarify Anthology via Annapurna Magazine.
Deadline is October 1st
Contributors receive a copy of the anthology as payment.
Editors read until mid-month and acceptance goes out by end of month; slated for Thanksgiving printing.