The Kitchen God's Mistress
Did you always smell of cinnamon?
It reminded me of ma’s long-ago kitchen.
Mustard seeds. Mutton crackle. Hot air
condensed on window mesh while I shelled peas
on stone cool enough for sleep.
I should have barred the doors
when you nuzzled in
but a weakness for spices and memory
stopped me. Besides, I glimpsed
your feet, smooth and brown, with an arch
I could fit into. The night you drowned,
I was deveining prawns and drinking beer. I thought
it would be like any other night: we would eat
slowly and listen to the cicadas sing. Later,
they would leap indoors and crawl
under our bed where we lay side by side
in the dark, entering each other’s dreams.
I was so happy watching the kitchen
simmer in pools of light. How could I know
they would gulp you down without a ripple?
And who would have thought you’d be so
hard to pull out? You always looked so light
with your thin beard and gossamer cap.
Anindita Sengupta is a poet and writer in Bangalore, India. Her poetry has been published in several journals and anthologies, including Nth Position, Pratilipi, Origami Condom, Quay Journal, Cha: An Asian Journal, and Not A Muse (Haven Books). In 2008, she received the Toto Funds the Arts Award for Creative Writing. She is also founder and executive editor of Ultra Violet, a website on contemporary feminist issues in India. "The Kitchen God's Mistress was recently reprinted in Anindita's first book of poetry, City of Water.