Father and Other Poems

By Kanupriya Rathore

Father

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

Homecoming

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

Undressing

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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