“For the Survivors”

Begin with a seed. Begin with the father and the mother, your first Adam
and Eve. Begin with what falls from the tree: you can live on bruised and
sweet. Begin with a monsoon breeze, begin with a flood, begin with miles of
silk and mud and the wings of cranes and the stilt-like legs of a house with
no one left inside. Begin with a young wife burying her sons and books riding
the tide until they’re caught and their philosophies dried out on laundry
lines. Begin with a pen, begin with a cage. Begin with the memory of what
they said while you tried to turn your face away. Begin with bargains, with
stains, the names of towns built over towns built over graves, begin with
your life burned down. Begin with the god who hasn’t been seen since the
burning bush or the goddess who steps into the flames like a housewife into
a dress, or a fairy tale of hair so long that love climbed up—begin by putting
your mouth to the mouth of your dreams. Begin with midnight rain and
wild reeds, begin with hair and tendons, teeth. Begin with what never goes
away: a highway pricked by gravel and stars, low beams on wind and trucks
and emptiness. Begin. It starts with being, ends like a ringing bell: Begin.
Begin. Ring your self.

This selection comes from Kirun Kapur’s poetry collection Visiting Indira Gandhi’s Palmist, available now from Elixir Press. Purchase your copy here.

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 work has appeared in AGNI, Poetry International, FIELD, The Christian Science Monitor and many other journals. She has taught creative writing at Boston University and has been awarded fellowships from The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Vermont Studio Center and MacDowell Colony. She is the founder and director of the North Shore arts program The Tannery Series and serves as Poetry Editor at The Drum Literary Magazine. She was recently named an “Asian-American poet to watch” by NBC news. Kapur grew up in Honolulu and now lives north of Boston.

Jane Huffman is a current MFA candidate in Poetry at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a staff eDior for Sundress Publications. Her poetry is featured or forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, Moon City Review, Radar Poetry, PHANTOM, Word Riot, The This Magazine, RHINO Poetry, and elsewhere in print and online. She lives in Iowa City, where she teaches literature in the University of Iowa English Department and serves on the poetry staff of The Iowa Review.

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