By Rashae Reeves
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.
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
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.