Réka Nyitrai

The good wife

It is said that as long as we are remembered we are not dead. As a good wife, I try to keep my late husband’s memory alive. Yet nowadays, more often than not, it happens that I cannot recall his face. In these moments of amnesia, you may show me his photograph and I will tell you that I have never seen or met the man. I worry that I will be held accountable for my husband becoming forgotten and thereby dead... until I learn that crows have the ability to recognize the faces of those who mistreated them. Believe me, they can even pass this grudge down to the next generation of crows! So, my forgetfulness is no longer a worry: as long as the crow my husband threw pebbles at lives, his memory is assured.


Our love became a jug of buttermilk. It’s not my fault or yours that it curdled. It just happened. Our love is simply one thing among many that, for some reason, clotted and soured.
But, we’re in luck... sour milk is ideal for baking! Every pastry chef agrees that cakes made with sour milk are lighter and fluffier than cakes made without it.
After some time researching the best cake recipes, I decided on muffins. We already have our jug of buttermilk — all we need now is baking powder, some all-purpose flour, a little sugar, a dash of oil and an egg. When your mother visits next week, I will treat her to muffins.


My mother spent her entire life
dreaming of becoming a bird.
It made her believe in afterlife
and the importance of kind words.
When she died the doctors opened her rib cage
and inside her heart they found
a sparrow and two eggs.

The anglerfish

As I nap at the bottom of the ocean
I recall the shape, texture and color of your bed.
I recall how we slept during those first months: skin on skin, you spooning me.
I think of you and how we wanted to be one:
how my head rested on your chest,
how our legs intertwined,
how we held each other tight.
Now, I am again an anglerfish
just as I was one hundred million years ago.
Buried beneath my flesh are the heads of eight young men.

The blue wave

Inside the trap there is another world. This other-world is a blue wave. Inside the wave a fish and a bird are on their first date.
At the bottom of the wave there is an ongoing karaoke show.
Over the microphone a tipsy Japanese man keeps humming “I’ll forever love you”.
Over the microphone the keeper of unwanted secrets announces the elements the blue wave is built from: a tad of little death, a crumb of light, a few drops of water, the neck of a maiko and the lower margin of her ear, the sound of a distant shamisen and a pillow.


Three old women are bending in the fields. One is my grandmother. She complains about her husband’s many infidelities. The other one is my mother. She complains about her husband’s excessive jealousy and his propensity for violence: the likelihood that he’ll beat up any man who dares to even glance in her direction. The third one has to be me. I complain about all those men who might have been my husband if I had not rejected their marriage proposals, trying in vain to avoid my grandmother and mother’s miserable fate.

Réka Nyitrai is a spell, a sparrow, a lioness's tongue — a bird nest in a pool of dusk. She is the recipient of a Touchstone Distinguished Books Award for 2020 for her debut haiku volume While Dreaming Your Dreams (Valencia Spain: Mono Ya Mono Books, 2020).
previous page     contents     next page


Post a Comment

<< Home