Father and Other Poems

    By Kanupriya Rathore


    when his father died
    my father stood by the tv
    and laughed at repeats
    of our favorite sitcom
    I laughed too
    even though I was scared

    of him, his deep brown skin
    grey, under the fluorescent lights
    his eyes, large and red and his shaved head
    suddenly bare
    of all the hair he had combed
    so carefully, all his life

    at night, he held my mother and cried
    like he’d never cried
    and said ‘It’s like the roof is gone’

    my mother told me
    and I wish she hadn’t
    it was easy to think of him
    like a boulder, opaque, unkind
    and unafraid
    better than another life cheapened by pain

    when my father dies
    I will wear my sorrow like an expensive jacket
    with cashmere sleeves
    I hope I do not have any children to deceive

    Arms in the Valley

    Ali says we’ll die like this
    our arms holding one another
    his eyes open
    like small complaints

    Ali likes children. Ali likes my hair
    he says he will go to war
    when we pray our hands sweat

    sometimes the snow falls
    like love and we eat
    the saag staining our fingers green

    Ali says destiny is a prison he cannot survive
    so I gather flowers for our graves
    and fall asleep in the winter sun
    my palms open to the light

    Ali says to wait for him.
    I wait with my hands
    holding up my breasts
    so I can be beautiful
    so I can still be beautiful


    I am not even the glass
    I am where the glass broke
    and tore through your heel
    the towel got red, so red
    and warm
    how we laughed
    at everything
    how I put my hair
    in your hands
    my rapt body pounding with
    impossible faith
    I may have found Achilles
    sleeping in the ashes
    of the house I grew up in


    I leave the trousers and the underwear in their tangle
    nuzzling one another in the embrace of my heat
    step before the mirror and watch the little bruises on my skin
    Blossoming, red, purple and green
    I wrote you a text last night and didn’t send it
    went to bed feeling kind of good about myself
    like that kid from the reel who was given candy
    told not to eat it till mummy got back
    god how she waited
    the heater in the corner knows this room better than I do
    It ate dust in the summer and survived without its little cardboard home
    but being tough isn’t everything they make it to be
    the machine can only cough up a burning scent that loves no one
    I swirl before the mirror, wish for more here and less there
    lower all I have, flat against the marble floor
    remind myself that the cold is a kindness
    think of the last time we were in this room
    picking books you wanted our children to read
    now those spaces in the bookshelf are gaping,
    and the night is stunned by the magic of me

    Kanupriya Rathore is a Jaipur based artist, currently pursuing her Masters in English Literature. She graduated with Honours from Lady Sri Ram College, Delhi University in 2019. Her poetry features in The Jabberwocky Magazine, The ActiveMuse Literary Journal, The Wingword Poetry Anthology and The Tilt Magazine.

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