Kitchen Sestina

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 mountains to the sky – remember that skin shrivels
underneath warm water, grotty hair sways from oily roots,
you too reflect in the juice of onion pith
and the greening of old cornfield maize.
Sizzling oil covers sleeping eggs.

Crescent violets slice in your palms like cracked eggs
heavy with life, golden milky eye
the runny yellow inside seeds of maize.
Your gaze pendulums and shrivels
the underbellies of pans on sight, eyes’ white pith
lonely in color and ancestral in roots.

Morning steam knits and rolls, roots
breaking bubbles of gas like eggs.
No, I am not imagining the flowers on your apron, red pith
juiced and wrung from dimpled meat, stew bowl a brimming eye.
The boiling rawness cooks and shrivels,
your flushed heart photosynthesizing a thousand fields of maize.

I was little, we were parallel – your teeth were showing like grains from maize
in the sunshowers we used to watch, 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
on marble tiles. 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 like August sun 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 burns like the guts of tenement eggs
and maize eats air like monsoon roots.

Michelle Chen is a high school poet and writer who lives for paper mail, warm zephyrs, and fried noodles, and who takes inspiration for her poetry from the events that occur in and around her home, New York City.

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