Kottayam Morning

Chickens disturb the pebbles
just outside my bedroom window

as they skulk and search
for bark crickets. The neighbors

still mourn their youngest son,
caught under an oily car.

Four mornings here and each one
rings out funeral song and honk ::

green parrot and slender goat :: a clay dish
full of ghee. Saris tongue the wind,

trying to taste my grandmother’s
cinnamon plants and leafhopper wing.

Or the karimeen fish waiting
to be wrapped and steamed

in a single banana leaf for tonight’s meal.
A hundred bats fly inside my chest.

I hear them in my lung cave
while I am still. I want to stay in bed

a bit longer, wait until my grandmother
knocks at the door — her glass bangles

the only clink quieting what’s inside me.

Aimee Nezhukumatathil is at work on a collection of food essays, forthcoming from Ecco. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller and Kirkus Prize finalist, WORLD OF WONDERS: IN PRAISE OF FIREFLIES, WHALE SHARKS, & OTHER ASTONISHMENTS (2020, Milkweed Editions), which was chosen as Barnes and Noble’s Book of the Year. She has four previous poetry collections and her most recent chapbook is LACE & PYRITE, a collaboration of epistolary garden poems with the poet Ross Gay. She is poetry editor for SIERRA magazine and professor of English at the University of Mississippi’s MFA program.