First Person Indefinite
It was not always submarine.
There was life in the bodies we left by the water.
You thought them, together, unlikely to be either
A lost seabird beside its reflection in water, or
Distracted branches in half-open shutters.
You would not stop at the corral on your wrists.
Between us, I grew delicate. Touched
One newsprint fine wing with the tip of another.
They collected no dust, but laughter.
“It means they can’t be unclean, they cannot get wet.”
These were her first unthreatening sounds.
She washed her feet with mine
In the filthy water, by the old sea-wall,
The first stones in the city.
Snow, at first, was love to touch.
If mid-winter’s envelope is air
Twice-folded with light, paper-sharp
At the mouth, against the eyes
Snow is balm in a thousand cuts.
As mothers, eventually,
The noise of one’s breath underwater,
The consequences of words uttered and not meant,
It is a thing too-much present.
Twice I have met the mouth of winter:
As breath at the lip spilt in colder air
The open throat of the son
The knife hand of the father.
When they drew him out
First as fossil from rock,
Then as marrow, by teeth, from bone
His eyes were lost to color.
When they brought the boy to them
It was the mother that said to the father:
“It can be so hard with children
To tell when it is something that enters them
Or if it is that something has left.”
Sonam Kachru is a Kashmiri, when he is forced to be anything in particular. He was last seen working towards a PhD at the University of Chicago as an international student, halfway between the Classical Hindu life stages of brahmacarya and grhastha. To the best of his knowledge, these are the first poems of his own to be published from a collection he has tentatively titled: The Unbearable Likeness of Unbecoming Splendor. It is the first of what he hopes will not be the last of his books without a subtitle. At school, he is a student of philosophy and literature, with a special emphasis on what have been known to be core issues in metaphysics elsewhere, though largely un-known when housed in philosophical works composed in classical Sanskrit. In this capacity, he studies minds, perception, colors, and things that come more finely and grossly individuated than medium-sized objects. In lieu of any accomplishments (as far as he knows), he hopes that he will soon complete two book-length manuscripts that are not without philosophical meat, if of a more literary bent: one, Pleasure in a Time of Leaves, is a closely argued analysis of Ashvaghosha’s theology, here thought through on the basis of fine-grained attention to the literary texture of the second century Buddhist poet’s work in Sanskrit; the second, To Make a Buddha Smile, presents a philosophical and philological picture of Buddhism through the optic of such European literature (spanning several centuries and languages) as has attempted to engage, with varying degrees of preparation and seriousness of purpose, with the figure of the Buddha as an orienting trope. These books will, no doubt, require subtitles. Outside of school, Kachru is working hard to complete a book-length project, Make Humans Again: Voices From Kashmir, an illustrated book of contemporary poetry translated into English from Kashmiri. Initial work from this project has been accepted for publication in Another Chicago Magazine, Greater Kashmir, and Words Without Borders.