November heartbeat

By | 3 February 2024

I’m holding a chicken
heartbeat thudding in my hands
under endless cloths of white
November’s balm creeping down my back
to the tail end of 9-and-a-half
my memory incubator-ripe
when we cremated the papier mâché
because it was too hideous
and now we are enlightened
about the devastating things
like the tooth fairy’s handwriting,
the brush of the word tit
used in a serious way,
when Daddy said the internet said that
a teepee can be made to inhabit approximately five hens
if constructed out of seven bamboo sticks, rope and netting
well it turns out that Lowest Prices really are
Just The Beginning.
whereas the airport is the end point
a terminal of all histories
and expenses are silent
rattling behind us in little rectangles
as we brought elsewhere to home
the hallway peppered by that
black and brown sequined scent
mixed with Johnson’s Baby Oil
and subcontinental mothballs
it is possible to celebrate and grieve in one day
but it is not possible to celebrate your grief
and vice versa
both the soft body and strong hand coexist
like mud slotted between couch crevices
and fate will play out in sepia tones
my grandmother
watching her son in the backyard,
a man with a thin fire in his hand
tipping God’s Name out of his mouth
and onto the dandelions
the backs of his arms
glowing maroon in the sun
like the first cherries
she knew how to eat
despite never having them before
spitting the pips out bone-clean
no sinew, no reddened gum
just pure unbridled grace
some would call it diabolical
all of us sitting at lunch-dinner
tucking into murgir mangsho and bhaat
like there was no tomorrow
But she was old anyway. They were all old.
swallowing that chicken’s heart was a statement then
not a mistake
the soft concrete raging inside my organs
is an outcry
beating against my spine
like a bruised orange

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