Poetry: collards by Ashia Ajani
An ode to the “brine and whimsy” of cooked greens, Ashia Ajani’s new poem reaches for the belly, for fullness. When so many understand the ache of literal emptiness, what else should poetry be about?
The pot stays on. On the stove, the simmer sojourns south. Hunger don’t have
no place in this kitchen. In this kitchen, every Black belly has its feed.
This garden ornamental tastes best after the first frost. After what
could not survive falls to decay in service of more sumptuous fruit.
O, my clever, sour Gods smoked from brine and whimsy, sweetwater recalls
me a Mississippi mad woman. Sick to soul with all this fruit. Yearning for
what it means to feed
and be fed.
Ashia (they/she) is a poet and essayist born and raised in Denver, CO, unceded territory of the Arapahoe, Cheyenne and Ute peoples. Writing as a queer Black femme, they work to preserve, interrogate and imagine how the Black diaspora has shaped and continues to shape land stewardship in the Western hemisphere. They have been published in Sierra Magazine, Foglifter Press, World Literature Today and Them.us among others. She is a 2020 Tin House Fall Residency Recipient and a 2019 PEN America Writing for Justice Finalist.