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About this poet

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.

Vestigial Bones

jaunse tu bhagela ii toke nighalayihe
je andar rahe tohar jahaaj ke nast karihe

The remnant of hind limbs puppets an origin
play that strings baleen to terrestrial

ancestors. Occasionally whales sport hind legs —
as in Vancouver in 1949,

a harpooned humpback bore eighteen inches
of femur breaching its body wall. Disconnected

from the spine, what is their function but to rend
the book of Genesis into two? Why regard

scripture and exegesis as legs and fluke,
sure to fall away, and not eat beef or pork? Why

do I need Hindi in Hawaii as a skeletal
structure, a myth to hook my leviathan jaw?

                                                    What you run from will swallow you,
                                                       what’s inside will splinter your boat

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

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

Rajiv Mohabir

Rajiv Mohabir

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

by this poet

poem

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

poem
After a century, humpbacks migrate
again to Queens. They left
due to sewage and white froth

banking the shores from polychlorinated-
biphenyl-dumping into the Hudson
and winnowing menhaden schools.

But now grace, dark bodies of song
return. Go to the seaside—

Hold your breath. Submerge.
A black fluke
2
poem

then the drunk teen scatters
a cascade of copper on cement,
the old Uncle yells, eyes silver
eyes in disbelief, Pick up yuh
paisa, na man! no worry
on this slate day youths dem
speak no Hindi to know paisa
means money, a taxi speeds 
by

2