by Lev Mirov
Come, child, have a taste: one-of-a-kind magic,
the sort you can't find in your grocery store.
It's not a brand you can ask for at the bodega,
though they make it in some of the well-stocked botanicas,
if you know the words to unlock the back door.
Grandmother's old bone-broth soup, salted with the tears of the dead
smoked from the resin of dream-trees growing when the world was young
ashes made from the bone-fire of your secrets, whisky hot with pepper loved by ghosts.
Do not believe the warnings, that magic comes with a terrible price:
I'm not offering you fertility, immortality, fame. The Devil won't take your soul.
But we've got to look after each other, we children of the exile
and who else is looking after you? Who has taught you the family secrets?
Here is what I bring you, from the kitchens of your homeland:
your mother, leaving the man who makes her cry
never again seeing the clerk who said your name like a dirty word
a room where no one talks while you speak your truth
a walk down the street where your heart doesn't falter
your table, heavy with vegetables and fruit
judges who break tradition and rule in your favor
dream visits from all your kin who have gone before you.
No, I do not charge for this: drink up, drink deep.
let the magic settle all the way down into your guts
till it bubbles in your blood and makes you unafraid.
Let the gods of misrule take the faces your mother knows them by
and hail you with the family names as a friend.
Turn your feet to the heartbeat of your home
and do not be afraid of the things your parents left behind them.
Here in the city we have been waiting for you to remember
everything that is your birthright.
Lev Mirov is a disabled mixed race Filipino-American who lives with his wife, fellow writer India Valentin, and their two cats near Washington, DC. When not playing a time-traveling medievalist dandy, he writes speculative fiction, fantastical poetry, and gluten-free recipes from around the world. His poetry has appeared in Strange Horizons, Liminality Magazine, Through the Gate, and other places. You can follow him on twitter at @thelionmachine.
Photography: adapted from Fish soup, cooked at my table... Yum., by David Peterson