THE DOTTED LINE

by Mani Rao

How many oceans is a question
in schools.

Four, five, or one, depending
on your vintage and philosophy.

We know Canadian gulls deported
in the spray of Niagara, held in U.S. custody

Of Hong Kong dogs that crossed the line,
and vanished in mainland eateries

Said a whale to its calf, don’t go too far
Watch where you jump

I’m a little concerned, the southern ocean
is now called the Southern Ocean

On 8 June, 2021, World Ocean Day, National Geographic officially declared the current circling Antarctica as the Southern Ocean, the fifth ocean of the world.

Mani Rao is the author of ten books of poetry including Sing to Me (Recent Work Press, 2019), New & Selected Poems (Poetrywala, 2014), and Echolocation (Math Paper Press, 2014), and two books in translation from Sanskrit— The Bhagavad Gita (Fingerprint, 2015) and Kalidasa for the 21st Century Reader (Aleph, 2015). She has a book of non-fiction called Living Mantra: Mantra, Deity and Visionary Experience Today (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019). Her poems and essays are in Indian Literature, Wasafiri, Meanjin, Fulcrum, Iowa Review, Colorado Review and anthologies including from W.W.Norton, Penguin, Bloodaxe and Harper Collins. Mani worked in advertising and television for two decades in India and Hong Kong, then did an MFA and a PhD in the USA, and returned to India in 2017. She held writing residencies and fellowships including at Iowa International Writing Program (2005, 2009), Omi Ledig House (2018) and IPSI Canberra (2019). She lives in Andhra, India.

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