To have risen early in the morning
when the dark was still the color
of unpeeled eggplant, before the sky’s
lining of fleece thinned to rice paper,
allowing shoals of tiny fish to make
their way into nets fine as gauze
slung over the boats of fisherfolk—
My mother knew the time of year,
calculating by the moon’s appearance,
by the chill or portent of wind, when we
should bring the broad banana leaves
indoors to clean and oil for wrapping
and preserving what we could not merely
hold in our hands of summer’s gifts.
Salt and fat, ferment of acids
conjured in baskets and jars—
Dutiful daughter, I indexed
their bite and taste, kept
their methods fluid for the library
of my tongue. In famine or in plenty,
my punishment’s knowing their names
and disguises, even in the dark.
In response to Via Negativa: Aphorism.