she says i’ve become bitter.
and almost like a flight fright freeze response
(as a woman
fight usually is rage swallowed in rossogulla
churned out of my sweatglands like some weird pheromone
that seems to keep them at bay).

bitter, she chastises and
its like i can taste the bittergourd seeds at the back of my mouth
where my tongue meets the throat
where that thing, that feeling
in my gut
having risen up as desire
goes through an immigration process
as my brain decides if it gets to come into this
(another term that makes little sense to me
especially given how it gets used
to justify a very male-sounding violence
inflicted, day in and day out
on everyone
regardless of where on the power spectrum
you find your injustice on)

so bitterness it is, she diagnoses.
as I sit there listening
parts of my brain
arguing defending considering discussing fuming
the part i adore best takes over.
the wanderer/wonderer:
what colour is bitterness, it wonders
and like a pantone shadecard of
crass undignified feelings
i begin to match.
i arrive at a certain version of olive green
(not the army kind that is meant to
blend into the forest while prepping for
but like a juniper and seaweed mixed with basil
(clearly i’m craving herbs today
(but tell me why
bitter is such a despised taste
(bitter chocolate after all
is the best kind
that i like to have just
before i facilitate
so my senses are smacked into the present)))

but i digress.
like a heart in search for warmth
having burnt for a tad too long
on the barbecue,
because that’s where hearts normally go.
except mine
didn’t take well to it
so now bitter it is
just slightly charred where
it hits the grill
of what is called this real world

and i apologise
like a chef who loves
the smokiness of this bitter
but needs to make it up to the patron
who thinks she was wronged.

bitter is an acquired taste
acquired by getting used
to what is.
what is left behind
when i am forced to let go
of what it really could be
better, i believe
but before i can speak up
this is how it is supposed to taste
don’t embarrass the chef, they tell me
so I shut my mouth
and taste it over and over again
till i acquire the taste of bitterness
like some form of numbness
of imagination, of desire

except when it rises from the gut
and wants to give voice
to a better taste
but the brain
afraid of being cancelled
puts it back down
nods its head to the audience watching
synesthesia it laughs gently
making excuses
for this thing in my stomach that tells
me this isn’t the only way it should be,
and letting it collapse back into the gut
and become

jayati doshi
5 april, 2021

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