Sunday, August 11, 2013

Poems by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Aimee Nezhukumatathil (born in 1974 in Chicago, Illinois) is an Asian American poet, best known for her jovial and accessible reading style and lush descriptions of exotic foods and landscapes. Nezhukumatathil draws upon her Filipina and Malayali Indian background to give a unique perspective on love and loss, and the land. Presenting some poems.

Are All the Break-Ups in Your Poems Real?
If by real you mean as real as a shark tooth stuck
in your heel, the wetness of a finished lollipop stick,
the surprise of a thumbtack in your purse—
then Yes, every last page is true, every nuance,
bit, and bite. Wait. I have made them up—all of them—
and when I say I am married, it means I married
all of them, a whole neighborhood of past loves.
Can you imagine the number of bouquets, how many
slices of cake? Even now, my husbands plan a great meal
for us—one chops up some parsley, one stirs a bubbling pot
on the stove. One changes the baby, and one sleeps
in a fat chair. One flips through the newspaper, another
whistles while he shaves in the shower, and every single
one of them wonders what time I am coming home.
After the Auction, I Bid You Good-Bye
You elbow me with your corduroy jacket
when a box chock-full of antique marbles comes up.
I can’t hear your whispers above the auctioneer’s racket.
The clipped speech of the auctioneer cracked
me up when you impersonated him in bed. Like a wild, thick mop
I soak up every copper smell from your corduroy jacket.
In two days, I will drive you to the airport, packed
with other couples pressed tightly at the top
of the escalator. Lines sear my cheek from your corduroy jacket
when we hug—then a quick kiss good-bye tacked
on at the end. I’ll finger the rim on the paper coffee cup
you leave in my car. When I hear your name I can’t forget
how your long torso pressed against my bare back,
bluish in this early light. Your fingers shot into me, popped
my spine into a wicked arch. There is no lack
of how it haunts me still—what I bid—lost, sacked
and wrapped for other girls. I should have looked up
to see who else was bidding, but I studied the folds in your jacket.
My limit is spent, loud and certain as the auctioneer’s racket.
Red Sumaiya Rana Ghazal
I’ve noticed after a few sips of tea, the tip of her tongue, thin and red
with heat, quickens when she describes her cuts and bruises—deep violets and red.
The little girl I baby-sit, hair orange and wild, sits splayed and upside down
on a couch, insists her giant book of dinosaurs is the only one she’ll ever read.
The night before I left him, I could not sleep, my eyes fixed on the freckles
of his shoulder, the glow of the clock, my chest heavy with dread.
Scientists say they’ll force a rabbit to a bird, a jellyfish with a snake, even
though the pairs clearly do not mix. Some things are not meant to be bred.
I almost forgot the weight of a man sitting beside me in bed sheets crumpled
around our waists, both of us with magazines, laughing at the thing he just read.
He was so charming—pointed out planets, ghost galaxies, an ellipsis
of ants on the wall. And when he kissed me goodnight, my neck reddened.
I’m terrible at cards. Friends huddle in for Euchre, Hearts—beg me to play
with them. When it’s obvious I can clearly win with a black card, I select a red.
I throw away my half-finished letters to him in my tiny pink wastebasket, but
my aim is no good. The floor is scattered with fire hazards, declarations unread