the pomegranate’s decimation

arils loosed from the yellow membrane
pith pocked and pocketed

spread across the plate Aapa 
gave us on our wedding day
my daughter, my panniq, picking at the crimson 
carapace, her graceful small fingers 
examining each aril between finger and thumb
before she consumes it, just so

reminds me of crab cooked in winter
my uncles letting loose
their catch across the tile floor
the clatter as thin tine toes
chased us 
and later the bodies’ 
carapace—craggy corniced interiors
the inner sanctum 
the source of life 
the sacred centering 
of appreciation

have I done enough to deserve this

I hold each memory

the December light flickers out
between the dark damp trees

I watch my daughter, my panniq, as she is this moment

Related Poems

to be considered before inviting everyone to The Cookout™

the gone did not go so that we’d endure
plucking grapes from the potato salad
we did not stretch Frankie Beverly’s voice
like a tent across this humble meadow
of amber folk sipping gold sun through skin
rejoicing over their continued breath
just for you to invite anyone in
able to pause the bloody legacy
and distract your eyes with a flimsy act
you break all the unwritten covenants
forged in the saved language of unmarked graves
those called to eat are those who starved with us
and not those whose mouths still water
when watching the grill’s flame lick Uncle’s arm

cutting greens

curling them around
i hold their bodies in obscene embrace
thinking of everything but kinship.
collards and kale
strain against each strange other
away from my kissmaking hand and
the iron bedpot.
the pot is black.
the cutting board is black,
my hand,
and just for a minute
the greens roll black under the knife,
and the kitchen twists dark on its spine
and i taste in my natural appetite
the bond of live things everywhere.

Rasp, Spoon, and Pestle

There were lemons growing old in a clay bowl,
A dozen injured pots that wobbled on the stove,
White countertops with stains like continents

Mamá hid with doilies and patches of an old stole.
A small cabinet stowed vials and jars, her trove
Of ground spices, dry herbs, heirloom condiments

To enchant croquettes, hors d’oeuvres, fillets of sole
Biscay style. With rasp, spoon, and pestle, she strove
To please Papá who scorned those recherché scents

Of haute cuisine, so she fricasseed oxtail in a soul-
Ful red sauce, boiled ham hocks, cooked tripe with cloves
Of garlic—simple, brawny, no buttery ornaments

To rouse his anger; but on Sundays she’d cajole
Papá with sautés, gratins, and soufflés that drove
Him to beg for seconds, thirds, his taste buds in ferment.