about yoga my father knew nothing
but in america he translated into a fakir,
at vision’s edge a shade of sabu
and so he stoked their exotic for his use,
his nautch girls white as swans,
giggling over the hand’s play as he traced
fate rambling across their palms—
whatever it took to make an extra buck.
with a galloping accent,
his palms roughened by cow teats
and stone, blueskinned in the montana
mornings, winter’s white rind,
beneath stars no longer steered by
my father kneels, he rises.
on graduation day, he posed in his first car,
a 1958 desoto, a machine of possibility
bought for fifty bucks. america was horsepower
and torque, shark fins, power lines
stretching to the horizon and no—hell no—
no speed limit on montana roads.
of the long unwinding quiet of asphalt,
the mute morse code of the road,
the dead silence after a snowfall—
of these things he never spoke.
america was peanut butter and potato chip
sandwiches, rice with campbell’s cream
of mushroom soup, weeping
in the bathroom where none could hear.
from the back seat of the desoto
they film the open road stretching before them,
trees blooming in washed-out white. As night
falls, a vacancy sign shimmers
ahead. But it’s only when the wives
appear in their saris that the owner
decides they aren’t negroes
and the keys appear.
this was the strategy of the sari:
where crosses burned
a woman in a sari was an errant firefly,
a peacock minstrelsy,
diffracting a white man’s sight.
he remembered trees touching
their own feet, flowers thickening into fruit,
shafts of sun cutting through
tantrum rains. And so he journeyed
home to marry. fatherless,
he had imagined a spirit twin,
another half of him returned
as they circled sacred flame.
Instead, as he murmured a poem
his young wife had snuck into dream.
For years after, he is left with the
unsaid, she remains unheard,
each with orphan eyes,
each with a stowaway’s heart.