BY HANEL BAVEJA
Summer came late. My father died. From the sky,
Delhi glittered the way only undesirable things do.
I still cannot eat oranges, the raw brace of blood,
the pinpricked dimples. Mangoes and plums
sweltered and fell from the sky till October.
My mother said, do not come back. I buried
the body like a seed. I wished to be a child again.
Everything felt plagiarized, a bad dream. Onions,
squash, tomatoes split their seams by rain, insects.
After, I could not stop dreaming about her small
hands. I loathed every infant I saw. The ways
in which we knew, and didn’t. In this dream,
you’re driving and I’m watching the swallows
paint the sky black. The sky moves in the wrong
direction, the highway ahead of us erupting
and folding back into itself. You stand barefoot
in the kitchen and gut a papaya, seeds spilling out
like fish eggs. You’re writing a novel about death
and God. You say, this has got to end eventually.
This is the moment before the snow begins.
In this dream, I cut the telephone cord.
We get put on house arrest. I make coffee, black,
while you fry whole eggs in an inch of butter.
In this dream, you leave me at a gas station. I still cannot
walk past playgrounds. In this dream, we name her
Caroline. She has one blue eye and one brown.
I have wanted to tell you this for weeks.
The last text my father sent said Hugs, Dad.
On the way back from the hospital, the light devours
one side of your face. You open your mouth—
only crickets emerge, a swarm. We’re swimming
and you slide upwards chin first, the way a child does.
You take the baby clothes and put them all
in a brown box, tape it shut and say, look.
That night, I wake up shaking. I do not know
what to say and so you cover my mouth.
Hanel Baveja is a junior at Harvard University, where she studies English and Economics. Originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan, she is the recipient of the 2015 Roger Conant Hatch Prize for Lyric Poetry, a 2014 U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts, a 2014 YoungArts Finalist for Poetry, and a 2014 Gold Portfolio Medalist from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.
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