Never has the world seen so much rumble
and sail over such a small berry. Dark meteor,
perfect pop of fire—you docked millions
of boats to the southern coast of India,
kept so many folds of pale flesh awake and skittled
at night. Dreams of quicker trade routes, maps
and battle plans inked in case anyone
tried to stop them from bringing back
sackfuls of peppercorn. Every kingdom
must have a king. Let us bow to the flavor
of cannonball and palm husk in our cheeks.
Let that small fire on our tongues combust
just enough that we never forget pepper
first came not from a land of flame and blaze,
but from a quiet shoreline of green.