Your cannibal grandmother
in the Ice Age on the Bearing Straits
ate the meat of her sister’s thigh
to keep alive the children tendering inside her.
She dribbled lymph and salt,
savoured the sinew and the guilt.
She was brownskinned, dancertribe,
fat ankled with pregnancy. Full of meltwater
in a landscape of ice, surviving
And you, descendent of this gruesome craft
are more beautiful than she ever imagined.
Deep in the underfrost she weeps
tears of ice, her fleshless fists still clenched
on a flower stalk, a baby-tooth, a bone.
I love you. It waxes and wanes.
Some days I imagine your face and it’s like
a deep ticking inside me, a wasted muscle.
Then, palming apples in the supermarket
my love for you will shake me by the
shoulders, drain my chest of oxygen.
Fruit rolls in the aisles.
Seeing your face at the station
I wait for a pang of want. Nothing.
It is only later, when your head moves,
birdlike to music, or smile slashes open
your moonscaped face, that I have to clutch
at my own thighs. Sometimes your typing hands
get me so hot I want to pour myself right
into you. Sometimes I want to smash
the keyboard. When you’re here
I look forward to unshared
bathwater and less washing up.
Then I am sat, peeling sweet clems
or clipping valerian leaves for tincture
and there is a river running along my spine,
running like a current, running like a song, running
like a lamplight through the gloom, and the floor
falls out of my love for you, and I remember
we are stardust wearing skin, and I could
kiss every molecule that you
Tanaka Mhishi is a poet and playwright. He prefers tea to coffee, cats to dogs, sleeptalking to sleepwalking. When he’s awake it’s usually at tmhishi.tumblr.com