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 four collections of poems, including, most recently, Oceanic, winner of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award, and two essay collections, World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments, and the forthcoming Bite by Bite: Nourishments and Jamborees. Other awards for her writing include fellowships and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Mississippi Arts Council, and MacDowell. Her writing appears in Poetry, the New York Times MagazineESPN, and Tin House. She serves as poetry faculty for the Writing Workshops in Greece and is professor of English and creative writing in the University of Mississippi’s MFA program.