Inheritance

Some days, I watched shrimp and prawns
suffer: their deaths brutal, yet profoundly
ordinary—the crisp snip-snip of scissors

through vein after vein, the ripped shells
revealing pale grey flesh that glistened like
some kind of revelation. My mother would

season the wounds with garlands of garlic,
ginger and lemongrass; turning up the heat
till the air itself became tinged with an oily

fragrance. I never refused the lightly charred
flesh, my tongue glad the way all beasts are
when allowed to eat their fill. Mother would

always have too much, her rice bowl emptying
so quickly I would never forget the three years
she became vegetarian: the famine leaving all

the trees bereft of their bark, the villagers so
grateful for something, anything, to chew on.