By Arah Ko
Featured Art: Freedom at Twilight by Jailei Maas
I eat it to feel alive, a man confessed to me,
teeth crunching through a golden reaper so hot,
my eyes watered to be near. When did he feel alive?
Lazarus, I mean, after he died and then came back
again. We talk about him like a firebird, crumbling
to ash and shaking off the coals to rise once more.
But it must have been something, you know? Waking
from four days of death, frankincense cloying
the air, linen bandages unraveling. Did it feel good,
like stretching after a days-long nap or did it sting
like capsaicin, dormant limbs burning from lack
of use? My father once ate a ghost pepper whole.
First came the sweat, then vomiting. I think
I’m dying, he told me, my life is flashing by my eyes.
And that’s another question—what did he see,
between? The glow of seven stars in a pierced
right hand, a double-edged sword emerging
from his mouth—perhaps the world tilted
in resurrection like from a devastating concussion,
swirling around his sisters’ grief-creased faces.
Sometimes I leap from cliffs, cling to bridges,
swim with sharks, but I’m not brave enough to suck
a devil’s tongue, weep into a pile of sliced scotch
bonnets, try to grill another chocolate habanero.
Maybe the question I most wish I could ask
Lazarus is which hurt more—the fever that burned
him to death from the inside, or the rush of God,
like a Trinidad Scorpion, like ten million Scoville
shocking him alive to the face of a friend?
Arah Ko is a writer from Hawai’i. Her work is published or forthcoming in Salt Hill, The Margins, Lantern Review, Sugar House Review, and elsewhere. She is an MFA candidate in creative writing at The Ohio State University where she serves as Art and Associate Poetry Editor for The Journal. When not writing, she can be found tending to a jungle of houseplants with her cat, Anakin. Catch her at arahko.com.