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more poetry

Shubha Venugopal

 Summer 2006

American Kitchen

The apparition of a face
With black voids for eyes,
A hollow for a mouth,
Reflected in the kitchen window.

Steam seeping from a pressure pot
Barely contains an explosion
Of dal upon ceiling and floor.

Buried between stainless steel plates, cups, spoons,
She whispers into the cookers hiss,
Mumbles into mung beans,
Sighs into the rice.

For years she has tried
To recreate the pungent smells
Of sizzling mustard seeds, cumin and hing,
The clatter of ladles and lids,
The mist of flour on puffed parathas,
The bubbling of ghee burned on pans,
The warmth, the wheat,
The smiles, the sweat,
The humming of womens words,
In her faraway India home.

Each time the kitchen defeats her,
Will not absorb her scents,
Her sounds, her tastes,
Leaves her to hover alone
A ghost above the windowsill.

Each time the walls,
The floors, the neglected corners
Echo with the mutterings of
Unwritten letters,
Unspoken words,
Unuttered longings
For the caress of a mother,
For the secrets of sisters,
For the soft arms of aunts,
For the squeals of unruly nieces,
For the vibrations of lost voices
Left behind in her India home.





Shubha Venugopals work has appeared in Eclectica, Mslexia, and Kalliope. She is currently completing an M.F.A. in fiction at Bennington Colleges Writing Seminars Program, and also has a P.h.D. in English from the University of Michigan. She works as an assistant professor of English in Pennsylvania, where she lives with her husband and her two beautiful children a toddler daughter and an infant son.

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