National Poetry Month Day 20: Kirun Kapur

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When she asks,         Are you a survivor, too?

                                                                                                                           I do not say

I have been trained                           not to answer that

                                       On the page                                        I have learned: confession

                                                                          is another mask

                                                                                                     When she asks,
What do you do when you can’t sleep? I don’t explain
                                                                                                                 how I walk around

                        my small town
                                                             in the middle of the night to remind myself

I say,                            We’re safe

                                                                                       We count our breaths together

             I hold on while she goes to get an ice-cube
                                                              goes to the bathroom, cries, murmurs, maybe

                                                 even sleeps

Are you still there?                            She asks,                                Are you there?

                           the self calling the self                                  back

                                                             the poem I was trying to make

I’m here.        I’m here.                                                           We take turns saying


Kirun Kapur is the winner of the Arts & Letters Rumi Prize in Poetry and the Antivenom Poetry Award for her first book, Visiting Indira Gandhi’s Palmist (Elixir Press, 2015). Her second book, Women in the Waiting Room, was a finalist for the National Poetry Series and is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press (2020). Her work has appeared in AGNI, Poetry International, FIELD, Prairie Schooner, Ploughshares, and many other journals. She serves as poetry editor at The Drum Literary Magazine and currently teaches at Amherst College. More from this author →