Poetry: revolutionary recipe by Aida Bardissi
Inviting us into an anthem toward abundance, Aida Bardissi writes with unmatched lushness. “revolutionary recipe” is a slow feast, asking us to consider love and all the defiant ways it might nourish and sustain us, with “one fist in air, the other woven / into each other.”
I feed you tonight under candlelight; — وجبة —
a meal: an obligation: an emancipatory demand.
through your mouth there are a thousand liberations.
your tongue will language our freedom,
I’m sure of it, so I feed you a menu fit for a mamluk;
a despot; a so-called socialist soldier in fatigues of silk;
and I will love you as our legacy demands of us.
To start, بتنجان, deviled plant, etymologically crazed.
I love seeing the corners of your mouth upturned,
stained with infinite earthbound spices.
In this kitchen I am free with you.
On the stovetop awaits our second dish; كوسا
kissed with tomatoes; I tell you of how
the fruit vendors rapped at the gates
of Ottoman Cairo demanding better treatment
lest their precious zucchinis wilt — Bouazizi smiles
light onto our table as we fill our mouths with
food before language. I tear pieces of
bread (I mean life) and spoon طحينة into your mouth:
my economy orphaned by scorched crops
& a pair of hands. For dessert, cornucopia candied
by sweet and abundant soil. I de-stem grapes from ravine &
watch you macerate them into wine. I think
the most radical thing I have ever done
is let you love me. I leave the table with
my stomach laden with your laugh. We go off
into the night: one fist in air, the other woven
into each other, our love
enough to abolish hunger.
Aida Bardissi is a doctoral student at NYU Middle East Studies, where she researches Egyptian film of the mid-twentieth century and its concerted national project(s), specialising in race, indigeneity, and constructed nationhood. Her poems have been featured or are forthcoming in Mizna, the Indiana Review, Palette Poetry, and VIBE Magazine. She speaks four languages but dreams in one.