You are in a country I have never seen.
Under your balcony children knock sticks against balls
Cry out in words you teach yourself to understand.
Streamers from a festival float free,
You picture them in flight, set aside a camera,
Pore over your notebooks
Pondering life in the favelas,
The persistence of samba, clash of urban borders.
What ancestral cities can I bring you?
What Jerusalem, what Kashi, what Cordoba?
How to load my hands with jeweled scripts
I never learnt to write my poems in?
Malayalam flesh of my dreams,
Arabic that rings through desert nights, Hindi that sears my speech.
Sometimes I feel I have poured all my love and grief into a foreign language
Yet words remain flashing in air
As birds outstrip the strength in their own wings
To soar into a darkness insurmountable.
In your room so close to the sky,
Do not forget the provisions of earth—
Water to drink and fruit,
Whatever is near at hand and common
Also apples, plums, rice and beans
And fish that leap babbling out of the sea.
In your room so close to the sky,/ Do not forget the provisions of earth