Soul Food

By Janice Mirikitani

for Cecil

We prepare
the meal together.
i complain,
hurt, reduced to fury
again by their
subtle insults,
because i am married to you,
impossible autonomy, no mind
of my own.

You like your fish
crisp, coated with cornmeal,
fried deep,
sliced mangos to sweeten
the tang of lemons.
my fish is raw,
on shredded lettuce,
lemon slices thin as skin,
wasabe burning like green fire.
You bake the cornbread flat
and dip it in
the thick soup
i’ve brewed from
turkey carcass, rice gruel,
sesame oil and chervil.
We laugh over watermelon
and bubbling cobbler.

You say
there are few men
who can stand
to have a woman equal,

this meal,