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Deported

By Ellen Kombiyil

We are on the plane now
crossing ocean. The pressurized
air is sweet not stale never
stale, the cabin set for
“sleep mode,” LED stars
casting cold pricks of light
& it’s beautiful to mimic
sky flying through sky
an act of camouflage
or reverence.
          Down there somewhere,
baby whales swim in the
slipstreams of their mothers.
My son sleeps with his head
on my lap, my daughter
fiddles gadgets on armrests,
her legs not yet bending
at the seat cushion.
                         We glide
with a quiet steady roar
against the earth’s spinning.
There are no oceans
in Aleppo but once
Uncle brought a giant shell
my daughter held to her ear.
She checked his pockets
for waves, upturned his shoes
for lost sand.
            Whales birth from
their bodies in shallow
patches of protected
ocean, the she-whales
extending their flippers
to keep the babies
submerged. They lift
their flippers then tuck
the babies under again
spacing the intervals
between submerging &
surfacing further &
further apart.
                         Across
the ocean they’re cancelling
asylum requests. They say
the Golden Gate Bridge
is actually the color
of rust.
            We breathe now
crossing black ocean.
The stewardesses serve
warm meals on partitioned
plastic. They bring milk cartons
for my children & extra
napkins. The plane thrusts
steady at resting height.
Who owns this air—
or rather not the air
but the mechanism of breath.

Added: Thursday, March 2, 2017  /  Used with permission.
Ellen Kombiyil

Ellen Kombiyil is the author of Histories of the Future Perfect (2015) and avalanche tunnel (Ryga, 2016). She has read, performed, or taught workshops at Split This Rock, the Prakriti Poetry Festival in Chennai, the Raedleaf Poetry Awards in Hyderabad, and Lekhana in Bangalore, India. She is a co-founder of The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective, a mentorship-model poetry press publishing emerging voices from India and the diaspora. New work is forthcoming in Pleiades, Drunken Boat, The Fiddlehead, Tinderbox, and Prelude. Please visit her website

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