And when the pestilence passed through the second time We stood stunned in the wreckage of our lives. I picked Up a shattered picture frame embellished in opal, Since that’s what survivors hold as a symbol of what’s gone. Yet, we’d already lost those sepia days, vignettes of joy. You held a rust-loosened shovel, since all you do is work, I buried you then because you were dead again. That frame clutched to your chest as I threw and heaped Broken home and dirt onto our final image. Now, you’re in the ground my friend, my lover, my ball And chain, my indentured slave, my prey, my only family. When the pestilence passes through again, I will Slit my own veins and bleed them into your soil. This earth has been soaked in blood too often, Sticky like sap, it sucks at my feet so I move Heavy and slow, away from you.
The paye have been slow-cooking on the stove all day, Bassar filling our nostrils and the stench of melting fat. We give thanks there are no aujriyaan, we are grateful No kaleji, maghz or karela to slime or bitter our tongues, To fill the house from door to door with the kind of death That’s reserved for the rubbery surface of frilly innards. Like any tarka, this will take time & the turning of spoons. Like anything made in heat, it will bubble & scrape off sides. But when we soak our bread in its hot gelatinous soup O–will it fill our stomachs like the love of strong men, The clench of warm walls after being touched by cold air? Flesh so tender it slips from bone and melts completely. How it hardens thickly, like frozen lake in my glass pot, Keeps for days, like the glow of a secret meal in lamplight.