Kirun Kapur

On Returning to Your City with Your Ashes

The river—dark and silver—
shrunk to a ribbon in its bed,

drones and pigeons soared
above the minarets and power lines,

bare feet twitched on the January floor,
while overhead the shroud

of winter fog burned like mosquito coil.
Hunched trees gossiped near the subway

at the edge of Lodhi road, while shadows
ubered through the gardens—the dome

of dawn was late. The Emperor’s tomb
was flocked by schoolgirls sporting pleated skirts.

I walked among the throng,
posing for selfies beside jalis,

angling their phones to catch the light.
I knew they’d carry home the long lines

of your face, the pattern of years you’d walked
here on those ghostly lit-up screens.

Kirun Kapur’s latest book, Women in the Waiting Room, was a finalist for the National Poetry Series and is out now from Black Lawrence Press (2020). She’s the winner of the Arts & Letters Rumi Prize and the Antivenom Poetry Award for her first book, Visiting Indira Gandhi’s Palmist (Elixir Press, 2015). She serves as editor at the Beloit Poetry Journal and teaches at Amherst College, where she is director of the Creative Writing Program.