Shafina, the World is Made of Curry

my friend Shafina gets up, makes the curry
for both her dying parents
every day, a rote prayer
red curry
green curry

yellow curry
beige curry

I imagine her whole kitchen looks like a shrine to Tupperware
no matter the prognosis
there is a curry that was never composed to heal it

Shafina is built beyond tropes
if I wanted to write a poem
entitled Motherhood, as Curry
it wouldn’t pass the smell test
of a local theater’s handbill

that’s how many curries I’m talking about
how many can’t you dies
have saved that many lives

even her name’s meaning
is completely unpublishable
(I looked it up)
it means Gift of God, for crissakes

when you save one life you become a story
fifteen, and they name a street block after you
but there is no revealing ceremony
for those who carry the dead to their toe tags
which is why achieving sainthood requires several loaves
many fishes
and a broken rehearsal space filled with
practice mirrors
as part of its requirements

which isn’t to say
that your local friendly firehouse
gets to monopolize
all the goddamn alleyways of Bay Ridge
I have built Shafina Ahmed Boulevard
smack dab between the Cyclone and the Wonder Wheel
it runs all the way up the Empire State Building’s skirt
or rather
it’s several parts water
garbanzo beans
and curry paste
which only a curry boulevard of the mind can be

I imagine her kitchen
because our friendship crosses the statehood of religion
I am tails to her heads
and a bearer of secrets of sorts
so, she carries her payload
in a stolen truck

death is a burden
from which many children abscond
if small tasks like oiling a hinge
build a liturgy
their endings are all but lost in the amplitude
those of us who accompany the credits
are contained in walled-off prisons
and bear a different dictionary
where curses pave a road
to what we Catholics call
Last Rites

but the whole world is built of curriers
of day laborers in service of other people’s wedding reels
in cities comprising secret passageways
hiding in plain sight
and right on top of the regular roads
where the fearful
pock the adjoining sidewalks
with heels and soccer cleats

but if you stand in any municipality
between its Ferris wheel
and roller coaster
you will catch a faint and undeserved hint
of Red Vindaloo
and if you’re lucky
you can use your two fingers as scissors
to cut the inconspicuous tape

Photo by sweetbeetandgreenbean

Terence Degnan

Terence Degnan has published two full-length books of poetry. He is a co-director at the Camperdown Organization which was created to increase access to publication and education as well as promote agency for underrepresented writers. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter.