My mother taught me how to cook mushrooms.
she would say.
It’s quiet in the still frame of air-conditioned mid-July,
in the white-washed walls that smell like fresh paint,
in the echoed hum of five-hundred unfurnished square feet.
While you sleep on a king-sized mattress in the next room
I lay the mushrooms carefully in a pan, two inches apart
so that they do not cry
and become waterlogged and grey with proximity.
They sizzle to brown crisps and I wake you gingerly with coffee.
We eat on the floor in the pale light of afternoon.
I cook rice that evening. My mother tried to teach me
how to make each grain full and soft and entact,
but I never listened, rushing ahead to a boil and now
each grain is a broken ball of glue, burned black in the bottom of the pan
and in the next room there is a mattress and a cup of cold coffee
and that is all.