Kottayam Morning

Chickens disturb the pebbles
just outside my bedroom window

as they skulk and search
for bark crickets. The neighbors

still mourn their youngest son,
caught under an oily car.

Four mornings here and each one
rings out funeral song and honk ::

green parrot and slender goat :: a clay dish
full of ghee. Saris tongue the wind,

trying to taste my grandmother’s
cinnamon plants and leafhopper wing.

Or the karimeen fish waiting
to be wrapped and steamed

in a single banana leaf for tonight’s meal.
A hundred bats fly inside my chest.

I hear them in my lung cave
while I am still. I want to stay in bed

a bit longer, wait until my grandmother
knocks at the door — her glass bangles

the only clink quieting what’s inside me.

Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the author of the New York Times best-selling illustrated collection of nature essays and Kirkus Prize finalist, WORLD OF WONDERS: IN PRAISE OF FIREFLIES, WHALE SHARKS, & OTHER ASTONISHMENTS (2020, Milkweed Editions), which was chosen as Barnes and Noble’s Book of the Year. She has four previous poetry collections: OCEANIC (Copper Canyon Press, 2018), LUCKY FISH (2011), AT THE DRIVE-IN VOLCANO (2007), and MIRACLE FRUIT (2003), the last three from Tupelo Press. Her most recent chapbook is LACE & PYRITE, a collaboration of epistolary garden poems with the poet Ross Gay. Her writing appears twice in the Best American Poetry Series, The New York Times Magazine, ESPNPloughshares, American Poetry Review, and Tin House. Honors include a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pushcart Prize, a Mississippi Arts Council grant, and being named a Guggenheim Fellow in poetry. In 2021, she became the first-ever poetry editor for SIERRA magazine, the story-telling arm of The Sierra Club. She is professor of English and Creative Writing in the University of Mississippi’s MFA program.