“Ancestral Poem,” by Jaswinder Bolina


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Audio: Read by the author.


And so we settled upon the shore
of a nasally Midwestern sea
governed by a moon that hung
like a medal we’d won above
the subdivision. Evenings,
the starlings made an ecstatic
calligraphy against the gloam,
landed upon the slack, black
wires, our antique telephony
rippling between their toes.
From my vantage in a second-story
window of the split-level ranch
where we kept our things,
I could see some moths mistake
the neon heat of a Blockbuster
Video sign to the west for home,
your babaji watering the impatiens
in their beds beneath a local cosmos.
Crisscross of the pinkening contrails,
your bibiji nursing her twilight
chai in a patio chair. She said a thing
then that made them laugh, the clouds
like painted bulls tumbling across a cave wall
in this, the only known record of these events.
This is drawn from “English as a Second Language and Other Poems.”

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