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.
Kirun Kapur grew up in Hawaii and has since lived and worked in North America and South Asia. She is the winner of the Arts & Letters/Rumi Prize in Poetry and the Antivenom Prize for her first book, Visiting Indira Gandhi’s Palmist. Her work has appeared in AGNI, Poetry International, FIELD, Blackbird, and many other journals. She directs the Boston-area arts program The Tannery Series and is poetry editor at The Drum. Learn more at kirunkapur.com. (updated 2/2016)
Her poem “Girls Girls Girls,” originally published at AGNI Online, was selected for the 2015 Best of the Net anthology.