Daal/In the Midst of the Pandemic,
it began to snow, the weather having no use for calendars, for mercy.
After erasing the spring crocuses, it continued—flakes that could scarcely
be called so, weighty parings, dressed in slippery white taffeta that landed
with purpose on the street, the wheelbarrow, the Adirondack chair
placed at a hopeful angle to look out over the greening patch of grass.
Yesterday’s melodies were quiet—quick sparrows, sticks in their beaks, missing.
I watched the snow fall from the kitchen window, the world smothered
in a monochrome, a sameness, as I measured the lentils, minced the garlic
and ginger, let the oil rise to a shine in the heat of the pan. It fell harder
and I sprinkled the turmeric, inhaled the scent of mustard seed, split the chilis.
Even the air itself whitened then, swirling with worry, while I willed
to my mind’s eye sarees swishing through markets, their fabrics
breezy periwinkles trimmed in gold, rich chocolates and maroons shot through
with chartreuse, their wearers selecting from sacks—daals in velvet black
or peachy orange. How to feel what is in the world and yet keep our colors alive?
We must trust the beauty to make a nest so grand as to harbor also the cold.
Two truths, one moment. The aromas of curry, currants, cumin danced, defiant
under my nose, while the sky wept the same sad song. In some parts of the world,
daal is fed to mourners, the lentil said to resemble the wheel of sorrow
that touches each of us in turn. I sit my family at the table, serve them
heaps of steaming stew, tell them to eat and eat until they are full.
View Mass Poetry’s poetry & protest video collage where I was one of 16 featured poets from across the state to read Amanda Gorman’s “In This Place (An American Lyric)” for National Poetry Month 2020.