Skip to Content


By Azura Tyabji

If the meaning of the prayer was not passed down to you,
find it through holier means than translation.
Cling to the rhythm instead.

If you were not taught the rhythm, memorize the clang
of knife against yam against wooden cutting board.
Keep it ringing, ringing in your ears.

If not the ring,
then the Bombay jazz club
and its green lanterns swaying in the long, long night

If you were not given the religion, then at least
Boompa’s rosary beads,
with their memories
indented in thick amber,
the gold Zarathustra hanging from a neck
and tattooed on a sunburnt back.

If the traditions were never taught to you,
then cling to tea time always served at 2pm.
Display the cups and remember
elders do not take their tea with sugar,
like you do.

You have only a fraction of their blood.
You thicken your water with milk.

If home did not fit in the carry on compartment,
then the sprigs of lemongrass from the garden will do.
The tea bags brought from India will do.
The reusable garland will do.

The passport’s golden lions
show a compass of 3 directions.
The fourth will do, too.
With its back facing you,
and its open jaws the homeland.

If the orthodox genealogy did not show up to the altar
of any of the son’s weddings, identity will celebrate
the melting pot mothers. Inheritance
blooms a grateful garland
around the brownish baby’s plump smile.

Her laughter, an anthem.
Her heartbeat, a golden rhythm.




Listen as Azura Tyabji reads "Diaspora."

Added: Tuesday, March 24, 2020  /  From “Stepwell,” (Poetry Northwest Editions, 2019). Used with permission.
Azura Tyabji
Photo by Libby Lewis Photography.

Azura Tyabji is the 2019 West Regional Youth Poet Laureate and the 2018-19 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate with Seattle Arts & Lectures' Writers in the Schools Program. She is a writer, spoken word performer, facilitator, and educator. What motivates every aspect of her artistic practice is a love for community, justice, and healing.

Azura Tyabji is a Featured Poet for Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness. Learn more on the Festival web page

Other poems by this author