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Vol. 25, No. 1: Backward/Forward

“Drawn” and “Eastern Bluebird”

by Rajiv Mohabir

Drawn

At dusk small brown bats
fall from the eves of the porch
having made a home for brown
fur. A cloud of mosquitoes
rises from the lake. With erratic
wing strokes, bats sense their prey,
I can only see or understand
by what it is not, a small voice as guide.
All these years I have resisted
a home in the South. I don’t know what sense
can be divined from the pinholes
in black or if they drive me
into the night, darkly hungry
for a safety I can’t see, but longing
for some warm thing to fill me:
a perch for an evening, a cup
of jasmine tea, the end
of feeling as though this life
is a mockery of a life. I’ve been afraid,
I’m not ashamed to say,
of the weight of a brown
queer body against a Confederate flag.
I walk barefoot into a backdrop
of stars, something else I’ve feared
for rattlers and coral snakes under leaves,
a diabetic foot punctured by a branch
or glass, but now I want
to feel the ground. I don’t know
what draws me to wander
and I’ve come to these red clay hills
with an open chest so I can finally
lay bare what of myself
I have forgotten I’ve hidden
living in boxes for years, running,
not allowing myself a shelf, even,
to place a coaster, before
all of my bats exodus at once
into frenzy which is actually
an orchestrate dance
that draws them to what they want,
to what sustains them.

Eastern Bluebird

I, a yet unpeeled paradox
of prayer, mouth foaming

with psalms, pine trees backlit long
on the earth, left the eye

of morning, the cauldron
of the South, an arrow without flint,

until now ages away, one full generation gray,
my toes burning with cold

then sun, I sift the clay’s mouthfuls
of dangers: a barbed tight wire, a rusting

deer blind, a Southern cross
in blue strips, stars, and orange shroud,

in these death shadows,
I call forth a new daylight

in a nest box of wood,
beckon resurrection,

Lazarus. Come forth—

the depth of blue sky
meeting rust—a sunset or sunrise

on a passerine body:
blood and daylight on my chest,

until I peel off my clothes,
perch in the bracken.

Selah,

Do you not believe the glory?


This poem first appeared in the Backward/Forward Issue (Spring 2019).

Rajiv Mohabir is the author of The Cowherd’s Son (Tupeo Press, 2017) and The Taxidermist’s Cut (Four Way Books, 2016). His translations of I Even Regret Night: Holi Songs of Demerara (1916) are forthcoming from Kaya Press in March 2019. Currently, he is assistant professor of poetry at Auburn University and translations editor at Waxwing Literary Journal.

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