Little Deaths in the Kitchen

Shareen K. Murayama


Lately Baabaa resorts to pointing at things she needs. There. The cast iron pot on the hutch. Under there. The tub of Crisco. A tin of Nesquik. She points to a space in front of her, and we become a human chain, hefting a stiff suitcase from cousin’s hands to hands to hers. Baabaa doesn’t point to Jiji reading the paper.

But why is she too tired to tell us the story about Death in the kitchen?

We play dead when Baabaa is too tired to search for words. The pinging against the lid lets her know the crayfish are ready for her. The chicken splatters blood in circles, not knowing it’s beheaded—until it does. Baabaa tries to make something out of all of us.

Baabaa’s old suitcase hibernates in the non-bedroom, where we have no excuse to be. Baabaa said there are ghosts, hungry ghosts, who live under its lid. On special occasions, Baabaa pinches a snapper’s head, allows it to glance back at its history—sashimi’d pinkish white. It’s a delicacy, delicious wounds, something we were brought up with.

Baabaa points to the lid. After prying its jaws open, we don’t know what to do with our hands.

In the kitchen, we leverage our chopsticks, shoveling to the bone until the body is surrendered. The younger ones finger the fish’s eyes. They dart chopsticks into its mouth, poking in and out. We imagine a soft clamping down. We imagine someone is asking for forgiveness.


Shareen K. Murayama is a Japanese American, Okinawan American poet and educator. Her first poetry collection, Housebreak, debuted July 2022 by Bad Betty Press. Her first poetry chapbook, Hey Girl, Are You in the Experimental Group? by Harbor Editions was released in April 2022. She’s a 2021 Best Microfiction winner, a poetry reader for The Adroit Journal and Cobra Milk Mag, and Asst. CNF Editor for JMWW. You can find her on IG and Twitter @ambusypoeming.



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