Just in time for November’s end, this week’s feature offers a heady mix of augury and inspiration. Here’s the stunning title poem from Kirun Kapur’s new book, a powerful first first collection that charts indelible histories.
Visiting Indira Gandhi’s Palmist
I don’t know when I realized he had one eye that watched me, alive, the other free to read
the heavens. Could he see I grew where others couldn’t? Could he read my face, in its
lines all their faces—my aunt’s that morning, in the mirror beside mine, hissed, don’t
stare, don’t forget details, it’s your honor to look for all of us. Did he see I hated his eye,
sometimes, hated my honor: the hand always above me. Which eye reads that hand?
Which eye can judge its weight? I wanted to look away. Wanted to cry. His untethered
eye was milky as a teacup. Why have you come here, daughter? Couldn’t say, My father
made me. Couldn’t blame, You looked at Her hand, but you didn’t save Her from a firing
squad. I wouldn’t confess, I am afraid I’ll spend my life under a hand that I can’t stop or
hold. He never touched my palm, imbedded with pencil lead, or the moon under my
thumb, scarred while opening a can. He assured me I’d make a fine wife, a fine mother of
fine sons, prove to be a credit to my family, while his iris swiveled like a wobbly fan. I
made up my mind right then to open my hands—their forked wires, their lines of names
and places—take them.
First appeared in FIELD
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 is the winner of the 2012 Arts & Letters/Rumi Prize for Poetry and the 2013 Antivenom prize for her first book, Visiting Indira Gandhi’s Palmist. She is co-director of the popular Boston-area arts program The Tannery Series and is poetry editor at The Drum. Find out more at www.kirunkapur.com.