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By Rajiv Mohabir

for Rajwantie Baldeo

“ ...Rajwantie Baldeo was viciously murdered...And where was the outcry from our community? Did we hear anything at our kitchen tables? Did we hear anything at our mandirs [temples]?” —Nadia Bourne


A twist of cotton
daubed in oil
catches flame, an echo

of starlight whose fire
you will enter
as if the trial

were not your husband’s,
named Prem which means
love, with his machete

hands who cut you down
after paying
your passage to Liberty

Avenue, from whose breath
amber with rum,
a demon springs

into limb and shadow
and spits knives;
he bruised you plenty

before but the neighbors
closed their blinds,
silenced mantras that lead

from falsehood
to truth, from dusk
to light and turned up

their Soca Chutney,
now you lay, Bahini,
a red river mouth,

Sita swallowed by the earth
proving her chastity
to Ram who betrays her.

Last night at Naresa’s
see the Queens
neighbors gather, each one

clutching a candle
but it’s too late to chant
sarve bhadrani pashyantu

may all be free of suffering
or for me to say
I’ve lit my clay lamp

and you are the flicker
I shield with a poem.

Added: Thursday, July 20, 2017  /  Used with permission.
Rajiv Mohabir
Photo by Craig Santos Perez.

Rajiv Mohabir is the author of The Cowherd’s Son (Tupelo Press, 2017), winner of the 2015 Kundiman Prize, and The Taxidermist’s Cut (Four Way Books, 2016), winner of the Four Way Books Intro to Poetry Prize and shortlisted for the 2017 Lambda Literary Award in Gay Poetry. In 2015 he was a winner of the AWP Intro Journals Award. His poems and translations appear or are forthcoming in Poetry, Quarterly West, Gulf Coast, Prairie Schooner, Guernica, and Asymptote. He received his MFA in Poetry and Translation from Queens College, CUNY and his PhD in English from the University of Hawai`i. In fall of 2017 he will join the creative writing and English faculty at Auburn University as an Assistant Professor of Poetry. Please visit his website for more information.

Other poems by this author