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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 14: August 2022
Prose Poem: 272 words
By Aruni Wijesinghe

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I decide to make us a simple meal of rice and dhal, a side of mallung made with Brussels sprouts rather than collards, and a simple prawn curry with coconut milk from the can. You ask to help, roll up the sleeves of your work shirt, so I set you to chopping onions. I marvel at your confidence in the kitchen and the way you balance a chef’s knife in your hand. We stand shoulder to shoulder as I peel and devein shrimp, strip curry leaves from the stem. Eventually, I banish you from the kitchen as I finish frying mustard seeds with slivered garlic, stir the rice in the cooker with the handle of a wooden spoon.

I serve us two plates. Set them down on the kitchen table in front of two chairs facing one another. Bid you sit down. I do not set out any cutlery. You place a napkin in your lap. Look at me, expectant.

Today is the first time I let you in. Let you see me.

Today I teach you how to eat rice and curry the way I eat when it is just the home crowd. I guide your fingers with my voice, show you how to take a small taste of each dish with a morsel of hot rice, pinch a perfect mouthful into a mound. I show you how to keep the food from climbing past the second knuckle, how to eat with touch, eyes and breath.

I tell you I never eat with my fingers with anyone who isn’t family. This is how I tell you that we are home.

Aruni Wijesinghe
Issue 14, August 2022

is a project manager, ESL teacher, occasional sous chef, and erstwhile belly dance instructor. She holds a BA in English Literature from UCLA, an AA in dance from Cypress College, and a certification in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from UC Irvine.

Aruni is also a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet whose work has been published in journals and anthologies both nationally and internationally. In 2020 she served as guest editor of Redshift 5, an anthology of pandemic-themed poetry (Arroyo Seco Press). In 2021 she co-authored The Undulating Line: Writing Poetry Through Belly Dance (Picture Show Press), a collection of essays, poems, and writing prompts that explores the connection between dance and the poetic impulse. The book 2 Revere Place is Aruni’s first solo full-length collection of poetry and is a love song to her family and her miraculous childhood in New York (Moon Tide Press, May 2022).

She lives a quiet life in Orange County, California with her husband, Jeff, and their cats, Jack and Josie. You can follow her writing at www.aruniwrites.com.

 
 
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