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Teatime and Boiled Ginger


I never learned to love ginger-water,

sweetened with honey to conceal

the bitterness that pierced my tongue

with thin needles. I took the words

spread out of my teacher’s mouth

and filtered them, drop by drop, imagining

the seedy grit lacquering the bottom

of a wooden bowl. when children’s eyes are


who is responsible?

the infants who are cragged with bones,

poking out thinly from their brown bellies, bathed in

crimes they’ve never heard of.

the dull eyes that sprout into

honeyed summer blossoms at the voice of

mother teresa. gandhi’s parched skin in prison. the papooses bleeding

on the underside of their tiny feet, dusted with

their homeland. the kids

who convulse in the chlorine arms of women who are not their

mothers. should they be swaddled

in white cloth, sprinkled with clear water then clogged with dirt? should the

darkened, obedient grass slither around them, tightening the

hollows of their throat, char their skulls, when it is love

they seem to need most?

cold sermons sometimes preach fear, the flesh gnawed from pale bone,

the trembling glass of texas window-panes, fingers melted into candle wax,

blackened skin dripping like water pressed against glass rims,

all because

of a beautiful woman,

like a serpent that rattles against silent stone floors,

a deep well that burns

red-hot, baked, clay withering under its glare.

if the homeless

teenager, plucked from her family like a feather, because she liked lip-

stick and doves and darlings and jewels or whatever the poems say

asks for a sip

of milk and honey, what would –

He say?