Bulgur

Peter Balakian

Why did the chipped grains
swirl in butter with onions,

and then become ghostly
when the broth poured.

Umber, straw,
dust of tufa stones—

the mane of gran’s stallion—

husk-protector,
redress to the wind,

hard inversion of rain,

you came from where the stallion
voided over the cliff.

You were a stem downed
by pounding hooves.

When the pot boiled and cooled,

the flying steed of Anatolia
was steam rising to my face.

Ground-broth, silk road,
groats of dead voices,

from snow ledge marshes
you grew across the borderless land.

Here on the kitchen table, steaming
kernels of light shine on plates.

Peter Balakian is the author of seven books of poems, most recently Ozone Journal, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize (2016). He teaches at Colgate University.
Originally published:
April 1, 2019

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