Natasha Kochicheril Moni
POEMS x 3
AS IN DUTCH, AS IN YOU
It takes twenty-eight years plus three hundred and fifty-five days to learn enough
Before your mother unwound with disease, her father's ashes released
her brother's upper hunch, the everything that was never
brothers who made their bodies slight as insect for escape.
underneath sleeve or daring between breasts. No wonder
Now, by the waters too warm to freeze, your mother speaks
sealed in a bed of ice.
WHEN HER SON IN SASKATCHEWAN WINS AN AWARD FOR HIS ELECTRICAL WORK, LOUISA ARRIVES AS A PRESENT
Louisa is not thinking about air holes,
She is not thinking of The Lucky Dragon,
She is busy with geography:
Somewhere in Saskatchewan,
He is not considering silver bows
HOW WE SKETCH THE DEPARTED
That night the butterfly scorched
in the woodstove, due to inattention, mine
and the butterfly's. Flame sputtered as smoke
formed a pillow for the insect's final sleep—black
smearing the beads of azure that lined its wings.
trapped in fire, the small beating against current, the pop
of madrona against wing.
And the butterfly,
gone blacker than any butterfly in nature, puffed
its wings as if to fly but froze instead, its body thin as rice
paper in my palm, its heat a slight singe.
I come from a clan of butterfly
watchers, not deaf to the turn
not unaware of what the dark
I can close my eyes
and feel blood, the flutter
of ventricles dipping their wings.
My family carries red roses to the sea
and pine switches, sliced
who commanded thousands
and my brother breaks
delivers my mother's candle
with sand, a small
and they practice
at a time.
returns it, her arm the arc
my father, me, her sprig
and from her palm, a trail
her body to sea
I smell the earth; it is thick with rain.
On my altar a dragonfly wing,
I hold beneath my Grandfather's image—
pin it with stone, some smoky
quartz. It is early winter, between Mourning
and Long Nights Moon. I sacrifice nothing
but wood and paper, I draw white
butterflies on white paper, wait for the moon
to acid-test my sketch, already slipping.
In my Dutch family there is a connection between spying a black butterfly and having a relative pass away. "How We Sketch The Departed" pulls from this experience and the more literal incineration of a butterfly in a woodstove. It is an offering to both my Dutch and Indian families who experienced loss at the end of 2004.
"As In Dutch, As In You" was conceived after my Opa's death. My mother shared some classic black and white photos of our family, as well as the scant details concerning her uncles' escapes from Nazis. During the War, my Opa managed to pursue his love for speed-skating.
"When her son in Saskatchewan wins an award for his electrical work, Louisa arrives as a present". Her name is not really Louisa but she is a native B.C. waitress who served a friend and I with such attention, we almost forgot we were in a Canadian-Chinese smorgasbord. Thank you, J for your stories.