Poetry

Falling, 1968

So later, after birthing kingdoms
from the gauze of her Celtic belly,
she can say she was the illumination

Poem by Tishani Doshi - info@tishanidoshi.com Doodle by Billy Roids

Full House Doodle ©Billy Roids

My mother arrives in India

breathless, leaning against

the airport railing, looking sad,

bereft, as though she’s never put

her head against the wind before.

 

It is Guy Fawkes Day, 1968.

The start of National Small Pox

Eradication Week. It has been raining;

cruel, historic, monsoon rain,

uprooting posts along the border,

 

where Pakistan, only 21, like her,

is drowning in silver cattle skulls,

locust dreams. My father,

standing on a cusp of sudden light,

waits like sin to watch her fall.

 

The rest of the world is falling too:

students, Bedouins, lorry drivers,

in West Berlin, Amman, Ootacamund.

Throwing their Marxist lives into ideas

like liberation, like love.

 

My mother, moving across the air

of all this, must have known how falling

in love is something like dying after all.

Something the seas and sky evade

to survive the centuries.

 

Perhaps this is why she agrees to tumble

to the blackened chambers of the earth

like a virgin queen ant on her nuptial flight,

burying the snow-lit nights of her youth

in galleries of dust, blades of wing.

 

So later, after birthing kingdoms

from the gauze of her Celtic belly,

she can say she was the illumination

once – the slow possibility

of love in my father’s life.

 

From the collection “Everything Begins Elsewhere” by Tishani Doshi, being published in the US this summer by Copper Canyon Press.

CBK would like to extend a special thanks to Shikha Sethi for guiding us through the world of modern Indian poets.

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