We who were told by our mothers
to find the veins of our spices, the brittle
rivulets carved into the skeletons
of fennel and cumin seeds—we opened
their hearts with the kiss of a pestle.
It was fenugreek who taught us
spices were courted and not conquered.
We can’t seem to remember when
we widowed our own taste buds—
rosemary died twice, buried
beneath our tongues and cremated in garnish—
the crackle of a tava, our epithet.
Now only cardamom survives the stomach
of our mothers’ mortars—
bruised and scalded, forced into mouths
struggling to forget.
(Only mothers speak to ghosts.)
When the veins of cardamom are wrenched
open, they bleed
into our fingernails, the price of a daughter’s adultery.