Love Kitchen

Shalini Rana

after dinner

we find ourselves in

the kitchen

a small earthen thing—

the black help

sit somewhere else

  eating theirs.

hands clasped politely

we listen to the

white woman who dances

  with dirty dishes.

this is her kitchen

her 'love kitchen'

  she calls it.

I wonder if she

made love here or

if she meant

the kitchen was a good place

to give advice

  on love.

a scrubbed dish catches

the glint of her

sea-soaked eyes, heavy

with splintered desire

  a girl would not know.

we wait for something

  wise and wistful to come.

in a thick Haitian accent

  she tells us:



Shalini Rana is a poet from Vienna, Virginia. She is an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Arkansas Program in Creative Writing and Translation. Her work has appeared in Anti-Heroin Chic, among others. You can find her at

Routine (What the Neighbors Don’t See)

The girl goes to where

her mother told her to go

the first time

by the bookshelves

in the sunroom.

She rocks her belly

on a green pilates ball

meant for TV exercises

and focuses on the shifting

rug—dizzy white 


The paramedics take

her brother who has

gone blue.

The ambulance wails

its circular ringing—

and once her mother


and the front door


she is always left with

a faint hum

in her seashell ear.

These Trees

Walking side by side we find ourselves in a forest lined with pole-thin trees, vertically rooted in

both sky and earth. Shamrock green foliage dangles down the bark bodies and falls into carpets 

that surround the skinny dirt trail we stand on. I think about how the totality of life is evidenced

in these trees. Our lives together just one miniscule segment of theirs.


I stop our walk to look at them, asking you to take a picture of me with these forest fixtures that 

look more like Jack’s beanstalks. This walk is the solitude we seek to break down a wall we both 

erected last night—piercing words flung at each other that had little to do with trees. I wonder if 

these trees shoot upward to be closer to something we can’t see, while we try to look up from our

little height off the ground, like dogs fixed on a treat. I remember what you said last night, but 

you don’t. What did I even say? Memory. Words. Stalemate.


You stand several feet behind me, capturing the moment of me and the trees, so I can go home

and remember them on a screen. We are always forgetting. But do these giants that stretch up to 

space remember us every time we pause at them? Really my question is, do they remember 

better than we do? 


In half-light morning  

we’ll tangle like forest trees

bark bodies, softened