Beyond the stink of durian and mangosteen

decaying in tropical heat and the rot

of raw chicken moldering on blocks on ice,

another aroma lingers in the haze of the food stalls,

those alleys of steam and deep-fried grease

where barefooted chefs stir their pots,

garnishing recipes with freshly ground spices,

the spices once celebrated in the ballads of troubadours—

the scent that lured travelers outside medieval gates

to know flavors far surpassing the utility of salt:

plumb-wine kisses on wrinkled sheets, a mattress

inundated with the mists of the marketplace—

hints of lemon grass and curry in the gloss of parted lips,

the taste of sliced fruit on moistened fingers.


–Craig Fishbane

This poem was originally published in Flashquake.


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