Yamini Pathak

do you recallhow we heldheldheld onbore the weight
of father’s body
never let him collapse to the floor
released him when it was time sprinkled 108 offerings
invoked a safe passage of fire for him
and afterwardsgrew into an invitation to leanbraced to accept the weight
of mother’s tears


all those milk-fogged midnights we carried babies to the breastanchored
those trembling chicken-neckssated their suckling
never an infant slipped through sleepy fingersin a woolly dawn


how we bloomed into hothouses of tenderness
shivered in recognitionof terrain where we belong
those fields of intimacieswe wonvia delicate-fingered diplomacies

aren’t we giants truth-tellers, soothsayers?born with maps
etched into our palms
winding through the salt-desert pink sandstone and sun-flash
skirts with embroidered mirrorsan oasis of mothers and through another
forked path a migration backto the apple orchards of Kashmir
the snow-fed waters of the Jhelum course through
veins that ribbon out to our fore-mothers
and our daughter’s daughters

Yamini Pathak headshotYamini Pathak is the author of the chapbooks, Atlas of Lost Places (Milk and Cake Press) and Breath Fire Water Song (Ghost City Press). Her poetry and non-fiction have appeared in Waxwing, Anomaly, The Kenyon Review blog, Kweli Journal, and elsewhere. She serves as poetry editor for Inch micro-chapbooks (Bull City Press), a Dodge Foundation Poet in Schools, and is an MFA candidate at Antioch University, Los Angeles. Yamini is an alumnus of VONA/Voices and Community of Writers. Born in India, she lives with her family in New Jersey.