by Yamini Pathak
to my sons
Gather rotis for stray cows, scatter rice for the ragged crow
I’ve severed you from old ways, this is my sorrow
It takes practice to scoop daal with your fingers, taste spice on the honey
of your hot skin before you swallow, this is my sorrow
Rama scaled the ocean/Bheeshma died pillowed on a bed of arrows
Their ghosts in your marrow unstirring, this is my sorrow
In the bazaar you petted unblemished baby goats, you didn’t know
they were meant for slaughter, this is my sorrow
Exiled from a language where yesterday also means tomorrow
You wander thirsty with no tongues, this is my sorrow
I will be your compass, my bones are yours to borrow
My body your only true country, this is my sorrow
Yamini Pathak is a former software engineer turned poet and freelance writer. She was born and raised in India and now lives in New Jersey. Her poetry and non-fiction have appeared in Waxwing, Anomaly, The Kenyon Review blog, Rattle, The Hindu newspaper, and elsewhere. She is a poetry reader for The Nashville Review and a Geraldine Dodge Foundation Poet in the Schools. Yamini is an alumnus of VONA/Voices (Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation), and Community of Writers at Squaw Valley.
This poem previously appeared in ANMLY.