Rumble Strip
poems by Jason Tandon

"Doing Things the Right Way"

She asks if I can make a Dutch oven from scratch.
If I can cook rice without water or a pot.
If I’ve ever eaten rat, or would
if I’m starving and there’s nothing else.

She asks me to ask her these things.
I have the soul of a black woman, she declares.
The snowman at my window laughs his head off.
The crackers in the cupboard have grown stale.

I’ve been trying to tell her that it isn’t her.
It’s the dolls on her bed made with human hair.
The manners book by the toilet.

She craves an omelet. The eggs I have are rotten.
I hand her three and sauté onions with a dash of basil,
her oiled tongue basting my ear.