Photography © Glenn Bowie

 

Still Life with a Turkey Pie, Pieter Claesz, 1627

The boy with green eyes,
so pale that on the overcast days
we see each other, I mistake his eyes for raindrops,
a boy who says my name
in a way that it sounds like a curse when we make love,
tells me his country tried to take mine
from the Spanish crown in the mid-1600s.

Out of his thin-lipped mouth,
like lukewarm soup, trickles
his assumption that my ancestors
did not want masters
in a different shade of white.

He asks if I hate the Spanish,
asks this with a smile, I smile back
and glance down at his shoes.

He shares how his first-world forefathers,
as my third-world ancestors,
may have had their heads pushed down
by the same Madrid-made boots,
this he whispers, as if in prayer,
as if a wish, as if this will bind us
tighter than how i wrap my limbs
around him in the evenings i think
i will fall apart.

He motions me to step closer,
to a quiet corner of the Rijk
that tourists pass by on their way
to Rembrandt and his Night Watch,
i walk closer to a painting
of food that remains
always foreign in my mouth.

The boy with pale green eyes,
hair blonde as beer, skin ripe with sunburn,
tells me to marvel at the fullness of the apples,
the sheen on the grapes’ points of rupture,
he tells me to stare at the emptied nautilus
plucked from the shores of a then
newly-named ocean, a shell
forever caged in gold, he tells me
to look at a pie sliced, at peeled lemons,
at the vivid plume of a flightless bird
decorating its beautiful corpse,
on a silver plate near the edge of the table;
an opened cone of nutmeg,
a shore of salt.

I stare at the turkey pie
and wonder
how appetizing, how flavorful
the forefathers of this loving boy
must have thought of this dish
spiced with the iron of blood,
with the salt of tears
and the gold heat of a sun
i barely remember, and how, even now, I feel
the canine teeth of hunger
on my skin.

The boy with green eyes,
so pale I mistook him for a ghost the first time we met,
tells me the nutmeg in the painting
was from Molucca,
he chuckles,
saying that now, across
the paved sea of the busy street he lives in,
he gets nutmeg from a supermarket.

 

Nimruz A. De Castro currently lives in Amsterdam. He writes Poetry and Fiction. His goal for 2022 is to learn how to swim and properly ride a bicycle. He is a member of Strange Birds, a collective of migrant writers based in the Netherlands.”

Glenn Bowie is a published poet, lyricist and photographer from the Boston area. He also owns and operates an elevator company that supplies custom-built elevators for clients from New England to Hollywood. Author of two poetry and photograph collections (Under the Weight of Whispers and Into the Thorns and Honey) on Big Table Publishing, he donates all profits from his books to various charities for the homeless and local animal shelters.