Saida Agostini

when you ask me if you are a good father & cook up meets god
December 20, 2020 Agostini Saida

when you ask me if you are a good father


look     we know how this will play out
I will open my mouth   say yes  let you
walk away soothed like a small sleepy child
while I shake with every blessed memory
the glory of each fat violence you wrought
it would be too easy to name them
to speak on the ochre bruise covering half
my sister’s face           the other women
the times you told me you could wish away
our lives          your mouth hollow with grief
it’s never easy to be a man    but it’s never
been easy to be a woman      fuck it’s
not easy to live            I love you
the way you love me   volcanic           ugly
hard     I wish you would ask the question
again               I’d answer in blood
I’d answer yes 


cook up meets god
and she is a big black woman thick
thigh meat all dark knotted hair          lips a smashed ripe heart
there are months where he forgets her          chases
after other sweet women and drink                she lays in a
locked closet weeping into her sister’s shoulder
holding her arms         the bare skin a bruised constellation
sometimes he love her too much       opens every
door and window in the dark house till breath
floods in          swears off rum            whirls
round the kitchen till a feast erupts    prays
at her feet for grace    pulls god in closer
whispers who else yuh love but me enters in
between her legs and feasts for days
god drunk in his light


*this poem is part of a longer series detailing the exploits of cook up, a fictional character living in Guyana. cook up is also a traditional guyanese dish made of rice, pork, coconut milk and pigeon peas.

Saida Agostini is a queer Afro-Guyanese poet. A Cave Canem Graduate Fellow, she is the author of STUNT (Neon Hemlock, October 2020), a chapbook exploring the life of Nellie Jackson, a Black madam, spy and freedom fighter in Natchez, Mississippi. She lives online at