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Sitara Mitragotri: Poetry Collection

cooking lessons

my mother brings only a plastic bag to California. 

for you, she says, handing the miniature kitchen 

equipment for playing house

But mainly, so you can cook with me. 

& to my mother, I am pressed small by California, 

tossed from a hospital window into poppy embers 

before the first embrace. first gaze, first word, smeared 

in salt wind & trout. 

In her steel container, the flour fossilizes her 

paper knuckles. she holds my palm to melting ghee. 

it will remember you, child. 

I know that she is preserving these words in jars of 

pickled mango and ginger. 

it is what ripe lemons can never give you. 

& in the kitchen, my knife cut runs dry of men playing 

cattleherd, grazing bruised cornfields when the mines 

spit rust & combing the silken dirt of these 

fractured ghost towns. 

She tells me to protect my fingers. 

They are your inheritance. 

Fragmented skeletons in river-stained pans & starved, 

brass-bellied fish on cutting board. 

We fry okra in cumin and coriander, slow, steady

We eat the bhaji with bandaged fingers. 

It’s okay if we sit at different tables. 


*bhaji - cooked vegetable dishes

About the Author:

Sitara is a high schooler based in Massachusetts. Her work has been recognized by the Alliance for Young Writers, the National Poetry Quarterly, and The Afterpast Review. She is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Jhumka Review. In her free time, she enjoys painting and spending time with her pets.


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