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Kitchen Sestina

By Michelle Chen
The burning crockery pot shrivels
White shreds of pomegranate pith
Like the insides of open eggs.
Yellowed tombstone teeth of maize
Punch, one by one, out of their roots
And freefall under your pinwheel eye.
Dear, hunger wedges in your eye
Like god’s promontories—the flambé shrivels
The ends of your grotty hair, broiling their oily roots.
You reflect in the juice of onion pith
And the greening of old maize.
Sizzling oil covers sleeping eggs.
Crescent violets slice in your palms, cupping eggs
Heavy with life, golden milky eye
The runny yellows inside seeds of maize.
Your gaze swings and shrivels
The underbellies of pans on sight, eyes’ white pith
Lonely in color and human in roots.
Morning steam knits and rolls, roots
Breaking bubbles of gas like eggs.
You smudge the lilies on your apron with red pith
Juiced and wrung from dimpled meat, stew bowl a brimming eye.
The boiling rawness cooks and shrivels,
Your flushed heart tendering a thousand fields of maize.
I was little—your teeth were already showing like grains from maize
In the sunshowers, tracing the creases in our palms like roots.
Once the bees landed in your hair—three dove—in deathless shrivels
And died on our arms in minutes, bodies torn like dropped eggs.
The poison caramelized your cupped eye,
And for weeks we clawed the skin from our pith.
Now home for years, your knife sieves citrus pith,
Juice stains spreading August motifs on maize.
The satchel on your hip weaves the asbestos in your eye,
Mirrored in stainless steel and wild yam roots.
Dear, you were born as startling as eggs
And as swift as October stalk shrivels.
When hungering pith dives and shrivels
Your eye simmers the guts of tenement eggs
And maize eats air like monsoon roots.