POEMS: Love Lessons From the Kitchen

BY SAALEHA IDREES BAMJEE

Turmeric persistence.
The tenacity from garlic skin
but never the vengeance of chilli haunting fingers.

Beets teach passion.
For tenderness, heat low, go slow.
Taste after each addition.

Onions soften in hot oil. This is one way to build a foundation.
If you’ve over-salted, add extra potatoes for compromise.

When the toffee looks like it’s failing,
stir and stir and stir.
It will all come together.

POEM: The Good Life

BY SAALEEHA IDREES BAMJEE

good girls clean chickens
love their grannies
marry well
cry in cupboards
dust under dressers
don’t visit empty-handed
good girls love all children
tweeze carefully
go on beach holidays
google recipes for red velvet
scream into pillows
make Sunday lunch
good girls come like in the movies
wax until they shine
swallow on demand
hum within reason
don’t scratch their pots
put up with a hell of a lot.

POEM: Hagiography

BY SAALEHA IDREES BAMJEE

Daddy, that you died when you did
I don’t mind any more.
At six, it was too much
at 29, I can take it.
And you timed it so
I never got around to hating you.

I keep you incorruptible.
Incense unfurls my tongue
in offering I speak of you
faultless, generous your arms
holding dolls who talk
when you push their hearts
magnetised chess sets, day-glo dinosaur
bones, the library I lean on.

I wear after you
skinny Bob Marley ties
and feathered fedoras.
I wear the sponge of your ears,
soaking up sob-stories, the fabled
and for-real. People say
we’re too soft but really
we just like to listen.
I no longer grudge
what you’ve passed on to me
your bold nose, this
clefted chin, these dashes
of laughter deep in our eyes.
It’s like you had to go
so I could take your place.