I-HUAN,LEE + Samantha Tucker

Hospitality

I invited you to my house
and you said nothing.

I gave you a towel that night-
rejected. Perhaps you were already clean.

Or maybe you had a towel, softer than mine,
Egyptian cotton, a bather’s dream.

I cooked aubergines. You left them
leathery and lovely, clinging in their jackets.

I offered ginger snaps, to compliment your nudeness.
You merely rustled the packets.

I wondered if dimming the lights would help-
to soften your pubic outline,

or turning up the thermostat, to let moisture
keel from your skin, pelican from the thick side of your thigh wing.

I wanted to take you for cocktails, down the road,
but you didn’t drink, and wouldn’t leave,

all the time you were content to be there,
on the three-seater settee, unsaddled, divine-

enjoying your own smell,
Tahitian vanilla pressed with lime.

What does it all add up to?

Washed hair buzzing of lacquer and wine,
you an origami swan learning to be.

Illustrator: I-HUAN,LEE
Writer: Samantha Tucker

Cleaner

Her day begins with a love affair:
fingering found foods behind the oven,
the breakfast blueberries training circuit.
Coriander is a turbaned man faltering in the palette,
her tongue gets busy pushing him away.
Mayonnaise limps into slug trails,
asparagus heads make plush military cylinders,
industrious and honoring glasnost.
Splashed prunes, feline and crapulent leave rude stains.

She hopes no-one will come in,
disturb her flirting with the squash,
reaching for the bacon rind.
She can almost smell the piquant rashers,
hear their popping chorus in the fryer.
She wants to claim the onion skins,
rub them coarse against her body
until she reeks of them.
She wishes the occupants would leave her more;
long and slippery soaked cinnamon bark sticks-
wet custard to lather up-
something to chew on.

In the holidays when no-one’s there
she lets herself into the flat,
chopsticks tangled in her hair,
throws off her coat,
j-cloths ragged blue squares,
moves the oven all the way out
and swims down into the cooking oil.

Only when Soya sauce smashes from
the oriental shelf into cartoon pixels
is she covered; raking birdlike at chicken bones,
adding ketchup- squirted in climactic, holy circles.

Illustrator: I-HUAN,LEE
Writter: Samantha Tucker