By Rashae Reeves

Drought

I wish I knew how to make the porridge Mum used to make
so I could remember the taste of

saltine crackers and brown sugar 
kisses coated in cinnamon then shared in secret.


Childhood memories—

My feet hanging from the wooden stool

as I peered into the bowl, haunted by the smell,

jealous of how the gnats are not afraid 

to be caught lingering by the pot for leftovers.

They cling to the walls in shapes like

painted images of sullen tragedies,

drawn by the overripe plantains and 

curdled milk on the corner of the counter.

We eat in silence.


Beneath the kitchen table,
the calloused hand of a stranger
grips my mother’s thigh 

and there is a machete tucked under his belt

that he uses to shave the scales off of fish

in the summer heat.

Sometimes when it is too hot

his skin burns black like tar branded by the sun and he buries their bones in the ground and prays

for the rain to fall and when it does not he sings psalms

about killing men who do not honor beauty 

and the perversity of women speaking in tongues, conjuring spells broken in hebrew.

Give him the glass bottle to cradle the ache

resting in his mouth, so that way when he climbs into bed at night and

breathes in the scent of my grandmother’s hair,

he flinches away from her skin pulled taut 

like a veil to weep behind and 

remembers the taste of the salt

on my mother’s lips

before he drowns in his thirst.

His yellow eyes are glued to her like the

pestilence clinging to the porcelain table,

salivating at the thought of sinking

his teeth into brown skin and soft lips.

He has forgotten about the porridge

sitting on the stove and crawls into my mother’s bed,

he has forgotten to close the door behind him and

with the light in the kitchen glaring at her,

my grandmother gets up to put the food away.


She is the fish rotting on the back porch,

her guts spilled out as an offering,

abandoned lungs hollow, aching to be filled and in the dark, she climbs on top of the table and

sings

with her mouth full and her legs loose.

Please God, let the rain come.

Rashae Reeves is a poet based in New Haven, CT. They are mother to a beautiful cat and have several plants as pets.

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