What was the end?
a. (a site returning to) We got used to eating in the dark. Locate mouth, hand, incomplete sense.
b. What tense did you write in? say
i. ate, ate the insides, you ate and could not stop
ii. eat, eat until hunger, eating to find your next grocery list
iii. will eat, will you speak of things that feed and are fed, will eat again
iv. eaten, to show not tell my chewing silence, eaten me right up
c. In songs/instrumentals is it a grandmother’s recipe, like in “two reverse,” or the flies off the decomposing sugar of a great-aunt’s horse, “ingydar?” To speak of Adrianne is to speak of chefs: cooking on a fire in the cabin, mango in mouth, juice dripping, honey name, poison stains as she holds the knife, cracked eggshells, pictures that hang in your mouth.
d. Someone sent me a Cracker Barrel gift card. Someone else paid for our meal. A public consumption, nowhere else to share, when lockdown lifted, you finished too quick.
Or how did it taste?
A man slept in a BMW in our parking lot after the rent crisis. It is this misplaced emptiness and cooking for oneself. Their homes were occupied by hunger—and policemen, said Roy. I felt relieved to not eat by your dirty hand.
So much hunger in the head, such indulgence and excess, pared down to a simple meal: the sounds of the rain, the creek, the birdsong, the inside of an acoustic guitar. Or how it sounds to be inside yet have the outside breaking in, the kitchen and the prey, shelter as shelter as refuge, how the inside is the outside still, the hearth and the predator, how an old love is the wind knocking on the door.
We cooked biryani in the Cracker Barrel parking lot with the door open while I pretended you had not told me what you did. The smell got us free biscuits and an extra serving of hash browns the next morning.
(I fight with my lover about the state of his back and just how much to starve ourselves.)
June 5, 2021: whatever you think is best. ami pagol hoe jacchi.
I am aware of where the knife is when we cook. Instant coffee, plantains, oatmeal, lentils, and rice. He yelled at me in the kitchen for leaving the burner on. He ordered me to make him a plate. He walked out.
Ask Ma for the recipe—is it chopped bell peppers in oil, add tomato (a good amount). Once peppers are done, add crushed peanuts and salt. We’ve taken care of the problem of the eater, Nakayasu said.
I read shitty poems for the next bus ticket. (It is romantic, having nothing). To have the cake and give it away too. We left the day the rain came.
1. She does four peppers and two tomatoes (medium-sized), and enough peanuts to hold it together!
See you in produce. See you in the parking lot after!
6/8, 7:37 pm: Like a sudden loss of smell, all food is tasteless. There, as another repetition of day or certain thought played over, I forget what the chow mien place smells like. I can see its steel or steam. I can even taste the crispy noodles and well-cooked vegetables or that soft egg, but I can’t smell it. Instead I am in smelly vehicle going too slow down long stretch of road. The wind is even hot and threatens to break down. Death Valley sears your eyelids but makes the smell stronger. I poke my head out the window, but it smells the same outside. No street food here. Not really anything outside but things that had died years ago. He fears stuck out here. I am already stuck, away from sketches or studies of that Kolkata night. What is at stake here? Why can’t you be my accomplice, taking the trash out. Why are you half-clone half-duplicate? Feels like my ears are burning. And I can’t smell my grandma’s food either, not here, not anywhere, not with you there.
All of this at the dinner table in the wild, untamed, unnamed, yet with a place for someone else. One can say this record is death, but it is also communion, sustenance, survival. The record is a victorious, brutal, soft take on a new realism. Everything eats and is eaten, but not only time, not only decay, not only heartbreak, but we too, are fed.
Lagnajita Mukhopadhyay is an Indian-born epic poem collage stranger and break-up with America tour—on self-imposed exile from New Nashville, and the author of the books this is our war (Penmanship Press, Brooklyn, 2016) and everything is always leaving (M.C. Sarkar & Sons, Kolkata, 2019), and poetry album i don’t know anyone here (2020). She was the first Nashville Youth Poet Laureate, finalist for the first National Youth Poet Laureate, and Pushcart Prize nominee. She is a Masters’ candidate of Migration and Diaspora at SOAS. Find her work in Poetry Society of America, Nashville Arts Magazine, and Connecticut River Review, among others.