Tag Archives: Poem


Aubergine, you have been my nemesis, my bette noir.

I can not fry you properly, aubergine, but it’s all that I want to do.

I dont like ovens.

I don’t like grills.

I don’t want to leave you alone, out of my sight.

I want to be able to touch you myself at any time.

I can’t trust you with the oven.

Who knows what you’ll be like when you come out?

Unrecognisable, and all the secrets of your cooking hidden from me.

Your secrets hidden inside your flesh, not visible on your skin.

I’d only find them by eating you, but then it’s too late and you’d be gone.

I want to control you as you transform.

But you’re impossible. You’re always too thirsty, you stay dry for so long, you threaten to burn, you soak up disgusting amounts of oil.

And then all of a sudden your watery insides break down and you go wet like a leaf.

By then you’ve already drunk so much oil, you taste slimy like a fish and chips wrapper.

Raw, you’re the most promising looking vegetable in the fridge,

With the beauty of a fruit, your skin like polished black granite,

You seem soft to touch but your flesh has tricked me time and again,

Self contained with your own irrigation system.

You remain independent, and I am so thirsty.



The stem is where the taste is, take my stem and take my life.

White and crisp and stringy with the taste of yellow grass, a lick of lemonsweet.

Imagine a lemon that didn’t make your lips pucker and your teeth crack, your tongue taste sour.

I only deign to grow where the sun shines yellow and wet all year round. Seasonal sun is just for dry lemons, hard skinned Mediterraneans.

But this moist sun makes me delicate. Unbearable sweaty heat for mammals, sweet for me.

Silk Tofu

The tofu is soft. She has the high-fat content of silk, she is only a pudding. Some of her cousins were pressed into harder stuff than she ever was. Who chose that, she wondered? They’d all grown up together that year, a crop in the muddy field together, yellow black and brown, all round. Every year their brothers and sisters grew up in the mud under grey skies, were picked, plucked, boiled, ground, drowned and pressed. Some went on to be hard, destined for deep frying, destined to be textured with dimples and served to be as strong as meat, bursting with protein – pound for pound more than minced beef. These tofus faced a hard but honourable life.

Was it better, Silk Tofu wondered, to be treated and rendered gently? Drowned in rich milk, not chemically laced water? Pressed gently and smoothly, in a way that left her skin like silk; none of these acne pockmarks suffered by her harder, less fortunate sisters? They dressed her silk skin in fine, sweet syrups of ginger, or on less extravagant days, miso and spring onions. Sometimes all her fat was stirred up until she became a soft, soft pudding. Those days were the best and the worst, when all the richness of her beans overcame her solid protein structure and she became a quivering, curdling jelly. She was the biggest jelly curd in town.

Through wooded hills, sand trails immersed in mist;
cockrow from moon-lit huts; fresh marks of shoes
on dew-soaked bridge. Along the path, at night,
a girl braved wind and weather walking on.

The eastern sky glowed up, lit mulberry groves-
forlorn, Kiều knew not where to find a home.
Then, in the distance, loomed a Buddhist church-
she read the sign: “Retreat of Blessed Peace.”
She made straight for the entrance gate and knocked-
a nun heard her, came out, and let her in.

Nguyễn Du, from The Tale of Kiều (ll. 2029-2038), trans. by  Huỳnh Sanh Thông

Whether beaten or hung and swung, be resolute,
Whether clamped or chained, say nothing false.
“Sacrifice yourself! Struggle to serve our case!”
The only retraction will be death’s release.

Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, Untitled, trans. by Lady Borton