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Chicken Au Gratin
By Archita Mittra
Image by Rachel Gierlach
Editor's Note: This poem was formerly published in the anthology, Who Shall I Make My Wife? As part of the Eriata Oribhabor Annual Food Poetry Contest 2014)
When you dream of home, what do you smell?
Your mother’s cooking stirs your memory.
Too soon, you’re on a silver boat laden
with treasure, wading through a terrain
of mayonnaise and sun-burnt cheese, uncovering
gold nuggets of chicken and emeralds of peas,
from a milky swamp that smells
of your mother’s secret spice-box.
When you remember home, can you picture the walls?
A fading white. Creamy, like your favourite dish.
With trembling fingers, you’d peeled the plaster, once
and discovered a painting of somewhere else.
A hidden world, like the one you found on sunlit
afternoons, a bowl in your hands, staring into
the golden-orange crust, a map of sorts
with ridges and valleys and doorways
opening into an ambrosial delight.
When you long for home, what do you taste?
The flavour of exotic words-mozzarella,
oregano, basil-melts on your tongue.
A woman in a soot-stained apron nods sadly
at you, from another world. You are there,
and not there, staring till you see yourself
in the emptiness, at the bottom of a bowl.
Your cloven heart, baked and skewered as it is
still misses the countryside and the succulent
thrill of a world within a world.
#Unreal #Poetry #Photography #Home #Memory #Childhood #Food #Senses #Taste
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