You arrive a pilgrim in another country:

at its borders you remove your shoes


just as you would before a you enter a shrine.

Landscape becomes darkness: you learn


to measure light in context with textures

of different darknesses. Land, like your body


is clay. The ocean is composed of sediments

& water. Both are life-givers. You learn


that no two life-givers are same. You owe

one a debt of birthing you, to the second


you owe a lifetime. On land you walk with

warm lungs. In the ocean, you are a fish


with gills, accustomed to swim cold waters.

You open & close as the wings of a bird.


Land is a ripe mango on your tongue

the ocean is a watermelon in your mouth.


Your memory of the dead is like the rain—

rain colors itself same as the place it falls on:


say, entire cities, streets & buildings. A force

with small hands reckons remembrance.


Sometimes rain, sometimes the darkness

leads you to light. Both opaque & tender.


In your language, light means illumination

& dark is when the night spreads its fangs.


You veil a blanket on your child & pray for

mercy for those with whom you share & will


share history. You live invisibly through

bullet shots & hide the heads of your beloveds.


You go to the ocean & chant how heavy

the world weighs on your shoulders.


You are bone & skin on the ship in the ocean,

your stomach is full with the excesses


of images: land & leaving. The ocean offers

more water the further away you move from


across the shallow ends of a shore. Your heart,

like the ocean, pumps blood continually.