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REINCARNATION

BY MEHUL BHAGAT
 

Emory University, '18
2015 Adroit Prize for Poetry: Editors List

His parents hold him over
            his brother’s grave, explain how
he is his brother born

again. It is the miracle
            of rebirth, renaming, reclamation.
The day of his birth the mother is taken

in distress, gazing at her newborn
            child. The mother
has named the son in the guise

of love, chosen to think of both sons, living
            and dead in a single invocation:
Salvador. And in his portrait

Dalí has rendered his brother
            a specter. Detailed in a cascade
of cherries, the dead Salvador is framed

as a sum of parts, composite of molecules
            spelled out by light. In the mirage
the face emerges, beautiful

and threatening. In the right
            corner of the piece
he bears the weight

of his name. Each day,
            I sound out my name,
its interplay of letters, searching

between knowledge and grief,
            for some inheritance—
perhaps to carry, like the nameless mother

some quotient of the dead.

 

SCENE FROM MARRIAGE, 1994

BY MEHUL BHAGAT
 

Emory University, '18
2015 Adroit Prize for Poetry: Editors List

This is my mother before she became my mother.
Her body is flushed, laden with gold. She is dressed silent,
her white sari almost flesh—ageless. This is another

moment lifted from time. My mother’s hands are clasped—rooted
together as if deep in thought. We listen
to the smallness of the gesture. Something is alluded

here. The dialogue, the context, is lost, set beneath sheets
of color. My mother’s kohl-rimmed left eye
looks further than we can see—where one world meets

*

the other. Here, someone has pressed a finger
to the hollow of my mother’s cheek—made a thumbprint—the eye
of something darker. This is the place we linger.

Often we try and recreate the scene—
slide gold bangles onto her wrist, dab her forehead red. Who
knew the vermillion wouldn’t hold? The sheen

of the photograph has taken something from us, buried
what we didn’t know we possessed. How
we try, to imagine her rendered, for a single moment, unmarried.

 

 

Mehul Bhagat is a freshman at Emory University, where he is a Robert W. Woodruff Scholar studying creative writing and economics. He was the recipient of the 2012 American Voices Medal and serves as a prose editor for The Postscript Journal. The Harvard Kennedy School recently recognized Mehul for his work in public policy, and his team was a 2015 finalist for the $1 million Hult Prize for social enterprise. Mehul is currently working on three startups spanning art, nutrition, and education.