Star Anise

no star anise, he said,
tasting the bubbling korma,
you forgot,
again,
the girl shivered, watching lips
curl in pungent disapproval,
star anise is a butterfly, she sang in her
dream that night,
her voice the colour of powdered nutmeg,
without it, flowers open for no reason,
in the floating garden,
bird winged blossoms congealed

into clumps of leftover rice,
her dream burst through a dam
a torrent of fresh curd that split into
a roiling sea,
there were boxes in the hold
of the big wooden ship,
pepper, bullion and cardamom,
and two oak trunks, unmarked,
like children’s coffins,
star anise, a young man said,
a man who smelt of opium pipes
and caligraphed silks,
the sea rose in his ancient eyes
and rolled in salty rivers down her cheeks
a strange flavour flooding her open lips,

you still taste of star anise, he laughed,
pulling the moon into the room,
sniffing the purple flecked air,
must be that korma
we had.

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35 thoughts on “Star Anise

    1. I think when I wrote it, it was the projection of a young girl’s fears and hopes in her dream… the whole scene set in a past when wooden boats traded along the old spice route.. maybe that was running through my mind 🙂

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  1. It was very beautiful, but I like others was struck especially by the detail about the coffins. To me, it read more like someone older having a flashback. I pictured the couple as older people and the woman had made a favorite dish of a child of hers that had passed away.

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  2. Lovely to read – and it reminds me of an aphorism I once read: ‘Tell me who you sleep with and I will tell you who you dream of.’

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  3. History rises in our blood and taste, truly. What we eat and like to eat is as much oral history as story is, so I love following the spices that make demands on this narrator, that lead her to float on seas, awake in boats and be tasted herself. She does not seem to fear the sea in others or in her own tears. (Now I have to go and smell and taste the star anise. I hope it reminds me of delicious licorice like anise does.)

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  4. You have such an incredible knack for writing ‘place’ with the sensory details that make it come alive for the reader. And…..now I want to go eat some korma 😉

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  5. I smelled the spices and heard the ship’s sails slapping in the wind….and then I was swept away by the young man who pulled the moon into the room! A great read that filled my mind with images!

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  6. I love star anise tea, so to see star anise woven in and out through this poem is pleasing to me indeed. It adds a heavenly fragrance.

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