[33] Jaya the Ayah, Lee Woodman

Dark oiled hair pulled severe in a low bun,
she smells of vinegar. We hate the garlic
she fries, burnt red chilies seem sinister.

She braids our sister’s hair too tight,
beats us with an old slipper, worn nail heads
sticking out of the sole.

I fear her evil threat to lock me
in the bathroom and dangle red chilies
across my bare labia lips.

She comes out of there and I cringe as
pink blood filled with black crimson leeches
swirl down the commode.

Saturday, her boyfriend cycles by,
and finally, our parents witness her venom.
Jaya bursts toward him cursing with spit,

takes his arm, her jaw clenched hard.
Snap! She breaks his bone in two.
He shrieks in disbelief.

Mother draws us together to say Jaya is fired.
Who lit the match?
Terror-struck, our cheeks red-hot,

we imagine searing flames, horrified to think
she lies burning on her pyre.

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