Pottu / Dot

a little red dot is
a laser pointer
a moving target
a danger button
a recorder button
a pottu
a pimple
a popstar
a rash
a makaan orredi?
a smile of a query unconcerned with whether
it was mealtime
a panic room
a piercing
a period
of uncertainty asking
why can’t I question what I love?
why can’t I love what I question?
a third eye for an eye
on the prize
an accessory to murder
of crows on an angsana
a birdcall
flitting across
catcalling worms
a discreet witness
to bargain basement love stories
onwards and up yours
a cockroach friend scurrying over unwashed masses
this boy does not know anything
such a waste
thinks he is headlight
when he is just deer
a song that goes
this is
is this
is this
a home?
this is
a home?
what home
is this?


Copyright © 2023 by Shivram Gopinath. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 15, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

About this Poem

“Singapore, my adopted home of more than two decades, is often called the ‘Little Red Dot’—a reference to its appearance on maps as a tiny scarlet speck. A ‘pottu’ is also a little (often red) dot worn on a Tamil woman’s forehead. Connecting these dots gave rise to feelings of missing home while being in one, imposter syndrome, hunger, nausea, performance anxiety, gratitude, and a kind of belonging to longing—a longing that I hope the reader feels for an object of their desire.”
—Shivram Gopinath