271: Sunlight and Chilies

271: Sunlight and Chilies

271: Sunlight and Chilies

Sunlight and Chilies
by Vandana Khanna

We could be anywhere:
Jakarta, Singapore,
Kuala Lumpur,

slurping cheap noodles
from a pot. Somewhere
that makes this summer’s

sharp tongue on our backs,
on our thighs, worth it—
that sounds more sultry

than South Philly’s
sticky streets, steaming
concrete, more exotic

than row houses
with churning fans
and warm floorboards—

more like papaya
and palm fronds,
sandalwood and star

fruit. Out of smudged glass
the city stammers,
a sputter of diesel,

asphalt and kung pao.
Somewhere shopkeepers
haggle over mud-flecked

mushrooms, rice paddies
flood with monsoon,
rickshaws and motor

scooters taunt cows
from their holiness.
Somewhere the bite

of sunlight and chilies
rises like a hot, red
slap against our lips.

"Sunlight and Chilies" by Vandana Khanna, from AFTERNOON MASALA by Vandana Khanna, copyright © 2014 University of Arkansas Press. Used by permission of University of Arkansas Press.