By Kirun Kapur
Love begins in a country
Where oranges weep sweeter
And men piss in the street;
Your hands are forever
Binding dark strands
In a plait. Your mother’s
Childhood friend has steeped your skin
In coconut oil, tucked her daughter beside you—
All night the room is a womb, live with twins.
Heat’s body presses every body. Sharp chop
Of your uncle’s cough clocks the hours; your sister’s
Washing, the rush of your thoughts. Morning is nine
Glass bangles hoisting sacks of sugar
From the floor. I’m not talking
About a place, but a country;
Its laws are your mother, its walls
Are your dreams. The flag it flies
Is your father waving away.
Today’s poem originally appeared in AGNI, and is reprinted here today with permission from the poet.
Kirun Kapur grew up in Hawaii and has since lived and worked in North America and South Asia. Her work has appeared in AGNI, Poetry International, FIELD, The Christian Science Monitor and many other journals and news outlets. She has been a poetry fellow at The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Vermont Studio Center and McDowell Colony. This year, her work was awarded the Arts & Letters/Rumi Prize for Poetry. She lives in Massachusetts, where she is the co-director of The Tannery Series.
Editor’s Note: Today Kirun Kapur shares with us a beautiful lyric poem, replete with images you can nearly smell and touch. The dialogue between title and text is poignantly framed with the poem’s raw and honest conclusion.