For My Immigrant Ancestors


Road to Nowhere Ethan Crowley
Road to Nowhere, by Ethan Crowley

Ode to Cardamom

Daughter of Kerala
the Queen of spices
ran wild in the monsoon forest
set sail on the backs of intrepid wanderers
and roamed the world for thousands of years
before she stopped in the snow,
bedraggled at a Bavarian merchant’s door
and was invited in to sit by the fire
to stay a few hundred years more.

Her warm flavor conjures the palaces of India,
intoxicating scents of Egypt, Greece and Persia.
These healing seeds of Sumer and Asia
were preserved in the dough rolled through
my grandmother’s speckled hands,
the sole survivor of her abandoned history.

The jar waits behind the coriander and cumin
and on the longest night of the year,
I grind the green seeds on my metate
slowly savoring the motion.
When the baking is done, and the flame has cooled
I pop a moon-shaped cookie, and my mouth
is filled with the flavor of my inheritance–
this smoldering spice sleeping sweetly
in a blanket of sugared lace.



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