Self-Portrait as Appetite

by Anoushka Subbaiah

Consider the dance of jaggery, amber boulders undressing

into pools of milk or black coffee. They die with a certain grace,

a bit of sweetness, that I’ve been trying to memorize.

Tonight, my mother will scrape leftover rice and bones

into the dog bowls and think about my life-long refusal

of her cooking: the shoving of sandwiches under carpeting,

the wringing of a plump rasgulla until it bled sticky syrup,

the secret rearranging of myself into some immeasurable wetness.

Somehow I have always been full.

But nothing twists at the stomach like April each year,

arriving bright and blinking

like a loved one stepping in from the rain.

At the mercy of gulmohar blaze and jewel-skinned beetles,

the body staggers into opening after opening.

You’ll spy on newborn things, blind and pink,

and remember that we, too, are wondrous animals.

You’ll run your tongue across every sky,

because there’s more than just one.

That gluttony for something flooding and unnameable,

that need to keep a passing landscape within you,

never quite leaves. Someone singes the frayed edges

of an appam. The stove chokes. The dogs, oh the dogs,

have inhaled every grain and are begging again.

About the Author 

Anoushka Subbaiah is a poet from Bangalore, India. She's an English Literature major at Swarthmore College and was the recipient of the 2021 Lois Morrell Poetry Award. Her poems have appeared in Rattle and Vagabond City Literary.