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My Father's Wound

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Avocado trees on the moon. Aichigum,
mullukumb, Billy Blue Gum. This is not exactly
a confessional. My father’s wound
was also my wound, dirt outside
Vedanta Hall, blood in the dirt
below the gutter pipe, blood like washing
undone in my banian fold. I am not saying
that blood was the thing. My father
was singing. From the tall narrow barred window,
the gravel driveway, in the heat, my father’s wound
is jelly to the touch. I touch it now.
 
                              *
 
A broken tree on the floor. Tarzan says,
“Tarzan save Vivek father wound.” “The shadow
before State House, he will ride his bike no more.”
Once, I looked up from paper and saw the clouds
move. It was terrible, that clouds
could move. The clouds moving reminded me
of my father’s wound. I don’t care if you like this,
 
                              *
 
I am going to take my time. My father came back
from a hernia operation, there had been a mistake,
the stitches had to be removed. Every day
I had seen him shaving
in the bathroom, whistling Balamurali’s songs.
 
                              *
 
“If you’re going
to write a poem about me,” my father says,
“don’t forget to mention my daily yoga.”
 
                              *
 
There is a large glass door looking onto the pool.
My father cleared that place up. Surrealism only matters
if it’s real. I listen to Michael,
Mr. Mister, Genesis. On Kyrie, I saw
a massive bird block the sky while I blasted
the song from the car stereo to the playground
and the driver sat quietly. Did I mention
we had a driver? He drove me around
when my father had his wound
and could not move.
 
                              *
 
I betrayed the wound. I see it half-formed, my mother
washing him, his long painful yelps. This was scary,
to hear those animal sounds. My mother went in there
instead of me. Splashing. A red oval among the ripples.
 

Vivek Narayanan, "My Father’s Wound" from Universal Beach. Copyright © 2011 by Vivek Narayanan.  Reprinted by permission of the author.
Source: Universal Beach (ingirumimusnocte, 2011)
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My Father's Wound

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  • Vivek Narayanan was born in India and raised in Zambia. He earned an MA in cultural anthropology from Stanford University, and an MFA in creative writing from Boston University.  He was a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University (2013-14) and a Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library (2015-16) while working on a book of poems about the ancient Indian epic poem Ramayana.
    Narayanan has taught history, anthropology and creative writing in many places, including the University of Kwazulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa, and the Center for the Study of Developing Societies in New Delhi.  His books of poems include Universal Beach (Harbour Line Press, 2006/In Girum Books, 2011) and Life and Times of Mr S (HarperCollins India, 2012). A full-length collection of his poems in Swedish translation was published in 2015 by the Stockholm-based Wahlström & Widstrand. He is co-editor of Almost Island, a nine-year old India-based journal, literary organization, and publisher. His essays,...

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