When I cook for you

Here, I say, is my story

On a plate or in a bowl

Soups of fire, budding mountains

Red rings of oily kisses

Stir fries of grey mornings

Under a concrete highway

The wok song, the flame dance

My eyes follow the brown hand

Splash, flick, flip, swirl

A hit of garlic in my nose

A puddle in my mouth

Of my brand-new leather school shoes

A fist in my belly

A golden sweat rolling

Down my spine

Of the car exhaust in the air

Sweet and smoky

Of the heat yellow and thick

Collecting on my skin

Of my mother’s cleaver


On the bird’s eye chillies

The green-grass crunch

A splash of coolness

Here, I am telling you

Of breakfasts gone by

My father

Cutting, scooping, arranging

His plate, his methodology

Of my heartache

How it squeezes

And I can’t breathe

Of a hollowness

Deep clanking in my chest

Of moments I wish

I’d grasped tighter

Of hands

Nut-brown, green veins, gold rings

I long to hold


Here, I say, eat

Nice to meet you

Yellow: a pondering

The sun comes down

gooey and thick


like honey.

They call me yellow too

but my skin is no honey

see-through when it runs

down the side of my mouth

no sun when he crowns

the sky, shining a toothy grin.

Maybe if I close my eyes

and my lids burn into rust

tomato orange, like logs on fire

maybe then, I am of the sun,

skin smoking, my flesh

fading under their eyes.

They look at me like the sun

too, half squinting, half

glaring, avoiding, unsure

of my alienness

my true power.

Some of us are more

of milk, freshly poured

of dry earth, thirsting for rain

of tree bark, each line

crackles a story

of tea in porcelain cups

of mud, bursting with life,

love, history

but never really, truly



I love that our bodies

work in harmony with the moon.

Maybe she feels our loneliness too.

Her tides tug and pull

our blood.

The earth is rich with our blood.


We have been dreamers, thinkers,

mothers, friends.

Explorers, believers, anarchists.

We have fought wars,

and started them.

Some of us have held life

in our bellies.

Our wombs have been pawns

in their political game.

Our hair, ankles, knees,

their distractions.

We have feasted on the cries

of men, their cruel words

our fuel.


And it’s true,

some of us are beaten

and broken,

some have died for being born

a woman,

but I’d rather our story

be one of survival,

a story against all odds,

one of phoenixes

shaking ashes from their wings,

of three billion sticks strong

held together by a single struggle,

of compassion that throbs

in our veins,

of healing and knowing that we

are all sisters of the moon.


I’d rather that

than a story of monsters.