by | May 23, 2022

We invited our ancestors to dinner

for a feast too good for the living

a low lacquered table

lay immaculate and swept —

a week’s worth of preparation

on smooth wooden platters   porcelain cups   metallic bowls;

a different         clack


and tinker

at each spare movement —

and so it commenced

three taps / that burst / from the tips

of chopsticks

handled with a wisdom

before they       gripped and

tore and

shred at

dried pollack

dense cakes soaked in syrup

strings of spinach

sweet-battered courgettes

pulled               at swollen grapes and

charcoal-blackened meat —

there was a ferocity

watching the oily residues          spot

and drool

like condensation          on the polished cutlery

to be placed      upon the sculpted mound of rice —

with a tenderness and purpose

we sank

to our knees

and bowed

bringing our noses         to our fingertips

as we said our thanks    to men

whose names               I did not know

poured them

clouded rice wine          from teapots

served them      with two hands

inhaled             the sticky plumes

of incense and jujubes

until the flames grew

and danced∎


Words by Harin Turrell. Art by Betsy McGrath.