Today's poem is by Kirun Kapur

        In December of 1992, Surat was the site of the most explosive and
        brutal Hindu-Muslim communal riots since Partition.

From the bedroom they moved to the street.
Just as all the afternoons they'd spoiled
her with balloons, soda pops, bright plastic rings,
there was laughter. After, they set her petticoat alight.

Could've been me, daughter of darkest things—
balloons, soda pop, plastic rings—
They split the whole of her from life.
You're shocked: they were her neighbors and they'd watched

her running circles in the new red top
her mother made, for joy of having limbs
that spin the noisy rosy town around,
fed her sugared almonds from their palms,

said they loved her. And they did. You think
they undid their love or proved they never did
by what they've done. Here's the whole horror—
pink balloons twirling away into the sun.

Think of all the other words you know
love by: mother, god, citizen. Which one
is nothing more than what you'd choose?
You've answered every one with, why.

For I did love my neighbor. Do.
Balloons. Fistfuls of silver rings.
Shiny loves are children's things.
You'll say I've made love meaningless,

that I'm trying to excuse, that I don't see
the girl without her legs below the knee.
I'm only arguing what we can use
of love is not the half of it. You're sure

you are a true neighbor. That you couldn't,
wouldn't. But to know the whole of you—
my lover of soda pop, heart-shaped balloons—
I need the other names for what you do.

Copyright © 2015 Kirun Kapur All rights reserved
from Visiting Indira Gandhi's Palmist
Elixir Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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