Appa

blue flame turned light blue
turned orange under half-sphere metal
waiting to turn milky texture
into crispy shells
that my grandmother’s toothless gums
cannot could not chew
despite how much she wanted to

ladle spooning texture onto hot
metal, circling it around the sides
in an upstairs, dimly lit
second floor, plastic metal
chairs and tables, corner
behind the glass panel
in an Abu Dhabi street I cannot remember
in a foreign city turned home

rice flour, coconut milk, yeast
mixed and left to rise
for my one staple served between
semesters when my feet
landed on the ground I was born in

aerated bubbles popping on black
surface pan creating corridors
weaving through streets leading
from Madinat Zayed next to
luminous pink venus salon
in the night because
they only serve appa for dinner

sliced onions fried with miris and sugar
spotted with chili seeds
creating fire within my tummy
the spicy seeni sambol wrapped in
soft crunchy appa remind
my taste buds that they are alive

white tender squishy center
radiating into light crisp brownness
served on 1st avenue snuggled
thinly between fire escapes and
basement shops selling
South Asian spices

sunny side ups
sitting center in bithara appa
waiting for crunchy shells to
slit through the orange yolk
oozing over, coating
memories of introducing
Sri Lankan food to the
habibis and habibtis
on warm humid days
where the spices hit
their tongues into foreignness
later where the spices hit
their tongues into homeness

Artwork by Tjalf Sparnaay

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