Abecedarian & Portraiture

“i run away from grief until it catches up on a tuesday afternoon when i’m alone in the kitchen with my mother”

@woebegod on Twitter

& so the oil sputters, gleams on the pan. it is a singular

breakage in silence. when Amma spoons மஞ்சள் பொடி onto the

cauliflower— how white sizzles into yellow as if pages

drying in a prayer book under the January sun. lately,

even my lips have been coming up cold when I 

follow Amma’s hymns. my mouth refusing to be the sum of her

gods, my body refusing to be the sum of

her cracks. outside, the snowflakes resign to their reflections

in the gutter, & I witness their grief. Amma tells me it will

just take ten minutes, & I think of how we

kneel to amounts. Seconds turned into survival. I cup

light in my palms & watch as it escapes, spills onto the tiles as if

மைதா மாவு. Articles online say we

need to let go & move on, but in my dreams, I press my thumbs

over & over against Amma’s forehead. noon: how the moon

pales like an exit wound, before fading

quietly on its blue chopping board. Amma hums chupke chupke

raat din, & I am so restless. My face

stolen by the windowsill, Amma’s face scrunched as she squeezes

tamarind pods. ox-blood a slaughterhouse on white rice. the earth spins faster

until I almost put my arms around Amma, tell her we are awake, we are

vultures devouring our own remnants, but instead, how I touch her last

wound—a burn mark from the last time she cooked for me. I

‘xtract her hurt, & watch it drip—stain the floor. I

yellowed by shame. sunlight. eulogy. I reaching for the

zenith & finding only frigid air.


K. Kannan (b. 2008) is a first-generation Indian-American writer. The Editor-in-Chief of Blue Flame Review, a literary magazine publishing science-themed work, she also serves as an editor for Renaissance Review. Her work has previously appeared or is forthcoming from Petrichor Mag and Up the Staircase Quarterly, among others. Find her on Twitter @lotusmoonwrites.