Rajiv Mohabir is the author of The Cowherd’s Son (Tupelo Press, 2017), winner of the Kundiman Poetry Prize, and The Taxidermist’s Cut (Four Way Books, 2016). He teaches at Auburn University in Alabama.
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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?