For the love of Injera

For the love of Injera

By Yemi Hailemariam ’23. Art by Sophia Otero ’21.

Injera: a ‘flatbread’ made out of gluten-free teff grain unique to Ethiopia and Eritrea and a staple to almost all meals.


They tell me they love Ethiopian food,

         Fork clumps of meat,

         Dip it in the oil like

         some ethnic ketchup,

         Place a lonely piece on their tongue,

         Call it Tibs.

         Scrape a mesh of green,

         Puncture it with knives of rice,

         Tousle it through like salt,

         Ball it into a fist in the mouth,

         Call it Gomen.

         Spoon the pool of orange stew,

         Exile the oil on the circumference of the plate,

         Scoop the body sitting in the middle,

         Slurp it like a culturally thickened soup,

         Call it Shiro.

They tell me they love Ethiopian food

         And I don’t know how to tell them

                                 they don’t know how.


They say it’s like a pancake, Injera

         And I try to see the cake

         in the sponge of days sweat

         and the hours of labor,

         See the measly frying pan,

         The sizzling coating of oil

         in the sheer burn of the

         Flat, fiery Mitad.

They say it has holes, Injera

         And I search for a pit

         in the galaxy of spots on its face.

         Crunch the onyx caves on the canvas

         into hollow, gaping paths,

         and fail to come out again.

         For a hole has another end

         And Injera only has eyes.

They say they like Kocho better,

         And I tell them you do not wear armor

                     to a wedding.

They say they like bread better,

         And I tell them it is not meant to be eaten

                     with proper company.

They say it is hard to eat with,

         And I tell them not to be afraid to hold on

                     with the strength of all fingers.

They say it is too bitter,

         And I tell them it should not have taste

                     in the first place.