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violence enters a poem like a restless wind inside a burning house :: rohan chhetri

by on September 18, 2016

Somewhere near the borders to a warless country
stands the house my grandfather built.
Tired by the day’s work, my mother
has already fallen asleep in front of the television.
My father is noiselessly setting up
the mosquito net above the bed.
During the day, the town rife with revolution,
dreams of a new state.
They have licked the salt of freedom
and cannot unlearn the taste.

Someone I used to know gets shot
an inch above the ear in a crossfire.
My mother imitates that foreign tenor people acquire
while breaking news of unfortunate deaths.
His blood is washed off the streets in the winter rain
and drained in the sewage that shares
the common filth of the two nations.

Tomorrow my father will cross the border again
to go work for a bad-tempered man.
He’s had it, mother tells me over the phone.
They need to get out of there, I think, but never say it.

The paranoia changes hands
as spring comes on early, and I read in the papers
a nation is sending the refugees back
to the country they fled from.
On their way, they stop on the trails
to look for the frostbitten fingers
they lost in the difficult winter of their lives.

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