{The Bathtub}

I slide into the bathtub when the water is hot enough
To turn my feet red and tingly.
I lean back against the porcelain and grab my book from the floor.

I read Annie Dillard and I think that
I have never loved my body as I do now.

This buoyant form, soft, and full of purpose.
From the stars long ago, I inhabit the dust of the universe, and –
I know you have been told this before, but trust me,
Have you heard it?

My energy – the ball of pulses and electricity and light and heat –
My energy was, I hope,
The energy of a Buddhist monk,
Or maybe a Chinese schoolboy,
Or an American factory worker.
Maybe my energy existed in the fingertips of an Inuit fisherman.

I hope one day you feel this.
I hope one day you slide into the tub,
Swim in the sea,
Get out of bed,
And I hope that you feel the energy swirling inside of you,
A hurricane waiting for your permission –
I hope one day you remember,
I hope every day you remember that
You are nothing short of miraculous.

Sunday Morning

Our neighbors want to go to church with us, so on Sunday morning we meet them in the parking lot: a man, his daughter and son. We climb in the car; the small girl with a dark bob and wide eyes sits beside my mom. The boy, older than his sister, long and lean, rests against the window, his hands clasped in his lap.

The father is a kind Indian man with manicured hands and a soft, confident voice. He tells of the bus accident that “killed terty people” and of conflict in his homeland, Kashmir; his native tongue and his kids’ school; his Kenyan home and his wife’s parents. He laughs often: a loud, matter-of-fact sound, as if there is nothing to do but laugh.

My mom asks the children questions and they answer quietly. My brother and I sit in the back, eyes out the windows. He pokes fun at my poetry and I do not explain to him that I am trying to remember that every moment is miraculous.

We pull into the church yard. The chilly morning is new in the tea fields far from home. We climb out of the car – worship already at our fingertips.

{30 October 2016}

i.

This morning, we lit candles as prayers.

We could have begun a small bonfire
There on the cold concrete floor of the
Tiny chapel.

We could have warmed our
Shaky hands by the open flame,
Happily breathing the smoke.

We could have started a forest fire
With praises, petitions, pleas,
What have you.

Instead we
Lit the small candles,
Let our tears fall, hoping beyond hope
That our fire would not die.

ii.

Tonight, I go to sleep to Divali fireworks booming,
Reminiscent of the past – years of
Baseball games and fuzzy fireworks over the scoreboard.

I lay shrouded in a mosquito net, an
Experience only for my East Africa self,
The sound of wind in the gauzy cloth.

Flat on my stomach, I can’t help but feel
My heart beat, the blood pumping
Deep in my chest.

My cat crawls, then settles, on my legs,
If I close my eyes,
He could be any cat.

Tonight, I think of the questions,
The prayers, the nuances, and it is
Forever until I remember to sleep.

{The Moth}

Two girls show me a moth they’ve been trying
to save: a big, brown and tan thing,
fuzzy, fluttering and stumbling
on the concrete patio, its big, clever wings
bent at the wrong angle.
I manage to scoop the trembling creature into my hands.
I ask where it should be taken,
they say, “Over here,” galloping far ahead.
As I walk, I feel the frantic beat
of the moth’s wings soft against my
cupped palms. I try to understand
that I am holding life – blood, muscle,
warm body.

I try to understand what the world
must feel like, cradled in the hands
of the Higher Power, beating its injured
wings in the futile attempt to
save itself.

{The Ibis}

When we see them first, the ibises, we are tired from our journey,
edges worn soft from worry and unfamiliar beds.
When we see them first, they are grazing the field,
iridescent blue and gray coats seemingly wet in the
morning light, long curved beaks swaying between
grass and heaven.
When we see them first, we stand amazed,
our eyes locked on the strange, but commonplace
creatures, living their small, important lives.
This morning, 3 years later, in the same glimmering country,
when we see the ibis flying over
our heads and hear their screeching voices,
my brother says,
“Annoying birds, long, crooked beaks.”
3 years is one 28th of our life, probably,
and that is all it took – to forget.
I wonder why we ask for miracles,
if only to leave them behind.
This morning, I tell the ibis that they are
miraculous.

{28 November 2016}

Just today,
I was thinking how I was speechless
and thereby devoid.

Also today,
at just one angle on the curving road,
the tree stump looked like a
father hugging his son.

For just a moment,
I thought about ignoring the old
feeling of words in my chest —
only for a moment.

Now, I am welcoming you
into this space —
this space that is no longer
devoid.

{The Unnamed Hours}

My friend’s house is already decorated for
Christmas – NOEL on the mantel,
Red candles burning
On the living room table.
The words
Love,
Peace,
Joy
Are printed on big wooden pieces above the cabinet.
Now, at 1:45 am, the light is
A barely-there glow on the edge of the printed blocks.
The fire in the fireplace is a small accompaniment
In this grand masterpiece of time.

I sit on a wide beanbag,
My legs crossed, my hands trembling.
My friends sit in front of me,
Their voices melding into a
Lull, their laughs quiet,
Protecting the darkness.
We sit through the night, straight through till morning,
just like this.