Curry. Cumin. Saffron.
Mmmm, the hallways always smell of spice,
her seventy-year-old body perfecting the rhythm of movement
from icebox to oven in her efficiency kitchenette.
Tangerine wall paint cracks and mixes carelessly
with bits of spice yet lingering in the air; it
follows her, this aroma that eats the eater,
dancing around her skirts
like faeries honoring their faerie queen.
She knows this, and smiles at the sliver of sun peeking through her window.
Down the corridor
people begin their ritual of recognition, then sniffing,
and finally a smile that reveals anticipation.
No one goes hungry inside Apartment A6 and everyone has seconds.
Lunch and dinner, breakfast too
if a body is moving about as dawn surfaces.
Though small, her main floor seems to expand
beyond the boundaries of walls,
everyone cross-legged and eager to devour dishes
few could pronounce and none could forget.
A legend among the two hundred desperate palates;
today, however, souls wander lost through the hallways
because the lucky have snaked their way into heaven
and left the masses to a barren, tasteless fate.
As the onions, okra and potatoes, flavored
with a hint of saffron and even less ginger,
entice bodies five deep and ten across,
our greedy fingers and mouths offer no thoughts of others
going without while dripping sauce falls onto our legs
and Berndi seems content with the pleasure she’s wrought.
Copyright © Melissa Schwartz