Karthika Naïr

When he is distant
When she secedes
When it deserts
When they detonate

When the sun melts
When snow seals
When the moon unravels
When land lifts anchor

When blue begins
When tongue is home
When dreams grow
When I am returned

When breath is distant, sometimes awol: that old, faithless swain
When skin secedes — submerging me in memory
When blood deserts, racing for the great outdoors
When cells detonate and strobe chests with meteorites

When the sun melts in rivulets on July
When snow seals January in glazed cellophane
When the moon unravels over the Marais (and I lead him home by unspun
When land lifts anchor in Seoul, birthing cherry trees

When blue begins to stain the black, woo Soulages and eclipse shellac
When tongue is the home that hitchhikes with me
When dreams outgrow flowerbeds or fears climb unweeded
When I am returned, an old sock turned: inside out, holes darned, yarn
                    trimmed, a swollen foot ice-packed, maybe ironed

Then, and then, and then, do I reach out to wrap myself in your voice.