While I lived elsewhere, the cockroaches built
nests—hives without honey—inside the walls
of my apartment: slipping their shiny backs
into crevices and cracks near the windows
and base boards, drinking from the slow leak
beneath the kitchen sink. From April to April,
they crossed a hundred thresholds into my home—
each time making it less mine. I returned, at last,
to fumigate, seal what was open, and rip out the kitchen
down to the brick. A beginning that resembled
destruction. When the roaches outlast us, at the end
of the world, they will continue the custom
of eating the dead. I consider this when I think
of how we lost you, Aisha. I consider this
when I recall the compulsion, named by a few,
to consume the cremated ashes of a father or wife.
I hear your voice saying, cockroach logic.
I am eating your words, tasting the questions
and desires we share, swallowing fatigue and grief,
biting into a southern joy as yellow cake—you,
a song in my mouth. Dear Friend, you are a kiss.
They say you are an ancestor. Better to absorb
parts of you, now, despite my disbelief. I feel
compelled to tell story after story of how well
you loved. How you are loved, Aisha. I sip
memory like coffee. Black, it burns my tongue.
You run quick and hot down my throat.