Preeti Vangani

Stuffed karela (bitter gourd) recipe: Begin by halving the body.

The long bitterness blooms from an abandoned seed
inside the karela you forgot to scrape clean

Inside the karela, scrape out a clean home
for finely chopped onions, garlic, chillies & cilantro

Finely chop: onions, garlic, chillies & cilantro
Each cut like carving ma’s initials into an ash tree

Each cut, initially deep. Like carving ma from the ash
Her hands, at last, a thin thread wound around your body.

At last, a thin thread is wound around the karela’s body
to hold in place the bitter slit. Covered & left on steady heat.

The bitter slit covered and left on steady heat can be
neutralized if peeled, salted and wrung at the start.

At the start: peel, salt and wring all what you remember
Bitterness has long bloomed. An abandoned seed can flower too.

Quick Tip: Never cut at both ends, never cut it completely, it should remain whole.

Preeti Vangani is an Indian poet & essayist. Her work has been published in BOAAT, Buzzfeed, Gulf Coast, Threepenny Review among other journals. She is the winner of the RL Poetry Award 2017 and her debut book of poems titled Mother Tongue Apologize was published in February 2019. She holds an MFA from the University of San Francisco. Despite rheumatoid arthritis trying to wear her down, she walks through life with jazz hands.

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