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A Family Recipe – Zebib K.A.

Sprinkle in one half teaspoon of bitter herbs.


Prepare one eight ounce of nostalgia,

roast for ten minutes, in oil,

then toss in.

Wait for the wafts of dust, tree nuts, aged hot peppers.

You remember the kitchen in winter.

Whip in one heaping tablespoon of overheard conversation.

As fast as you can.

Add two to three drops of a consolidated vision of yourself at

eleven years old.

drop by drop, the essence of memory from

a genie in bottle, or a lamp.

Heat the oven to 450 F.

You want it hot. Hot enough

to broil out every hidden motive.

Seeing your dad cry

(someone died in a faraway land).

Gather around the stove.
Parents’ evasions melt in oven heat,
and you are all gathered around the stove.
Your loved ones blather on,
how could we forget Uncle Yohan?

Add salt.

One half teaspoon says your mother.

As much as we want says your father.

Your family is alone in a saltless portion of America.

A family unit that has folded on itself,

every year curling tighter,

every other descendant cast out

as a traitor, a stranger.

Pour slow into the warm steel pan.

Watch for splatters, girl.

Roast us even.

Spread your father’s sorrow.

His long gone mother,

without a chance,

without a goodbye from her dear son.

Pour carefully, avoid bubbles in your mix.


It will be too hot to touch.

For an excruciating,


long time.

Store for a day.

The spices are brought out in the wait.

In this time, you do not speak to your mother

A sour odor remains, but

no matter, this is expected.

Previously published in Lucky Jefferson.

Zebib K. A. (she/her) is a writer and psychiatrist. She recently moved from NYC to Scotland to do a Masters in Creative Writing at University of Edinburgh. She has been published in The Rumpus, Apparition Lit, and more. She is black, queer, and comes from an immigrant background, and explores these identities in her writing.

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