Published on Academy of American Poets (


hathailiyan ke mehndi halki hoike gayaab
ii sarirwa mein bhala kaa tikaav

You will your house of clay and breath
a fortress. One day, ash and smoke will play fire

games in the courtyard. Remember this hovel
is of five senses —

Does wind stay trapped in a room when its windows
yawn? Without country it flows as river water,

a traceless origin. How can this structure
of earth and bone be home? Says Kabir, “However

beautiful — gold or silver — when the cage
door cracks what bird stays inside?”

                                       The palm’s mehndi lightens then disappears;
                                                        what permanence is in your body?


Copyright © 2019 Rajiv Mohabir. This poem originally appeared in Kenyon Review, January/February 2019. Used with permission of the author.


Rajiv Mohabir

Rajiv Mohabir is the author of The Cowherd’s Son (Tupelo Press, 2017), winner of the Kundiman Poetry Prize.

Date Published: 2019-01-07

Source URL: