Grief does not wait for Death, by Karan Kapoor

Dida does not know death
has planted her spine in an egg

carton that someone will
forget on a windowsill until

winter, where nothing but
grief grows. She does not know

she is dying, or knows but does
not show she knows. By the time

she rushes over the slick end
of a wave as a small shoal

of ash, I will have washed
my hands of this grief

business. Because I have
already begun the burning,

adding her to my urn of poems,
bone by bone. I lift her, light

as an empty egg — so light, why
doesn’t she levitate? I sift her

into ink, crack her suffering
open, as she invokes

the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra
Om. I surrender to the possessor

of three eyes, who imbues bliss
as sweet incense smoke infuses

air. Like fruit falls from stem
without effort, may Shiva

release me from death,
not deathlessness.

No god will save her. Flesh, so
brittle before memory, before rain.

Her death belongs to my poems,
and this secret is safe from her.


A poet based in New Delhi, Karan Kapoor is a recent winner of the Red Wheelbarrow Prize. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Plume, Rattle, Humber Literary Review, Frontier, New Welsh Review, The Bombay Literary Magazine and elsewhere. You can find him at:

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