Death Has My Back
But for that biker in my rear-view
I’d be solo into the sunset,
radio spilling “road-to-nowhere”
Can’t shake him off,
so I say “creditor, star-dog,
come closer, be done.”
Then toss a wrapper
into the wind flapping
at his face.
Respondez s’il vous plait!
Instead, the road revvs infested
Countless riders pass us—
steady, sweet pair
Unless by heart is meant the anatomical,
believers do not use the word
in poems. Believers of
who measure words, distances
between words and things
they try to touch.
Calibrating thus I walked to the riverbank
where uncountable hearts of stone
protested the analogy.
I picked up one and a cold wave
tore along my arm to crash, not
left of centre, but exact centre
of my chest, frozen knot.
Hearts sink because blood is thicker than water.
Don’t I keep on searching for that heart of gold.
The day I stepped upon a broken heart barefoot.
Upon a rock, a heron, and another heron,
upside down, immersed in the water
Then without warning soared
my winged heart.
Mani Rao is the author of eleven poetry books and chapbooks including Love Me in a Hurry, Sing to Me and Echolocation. Her books in translation from Sanskrit mediate between ancient India and today—the canonical Bhagavad Gita, poetry and plays in Kalidasa for the 21st Century Reader, and the esoteric hymn to Shakti in Saundarya Lahari: Wave of Beauty. Her book of non-fiction, Living Mantra: Mantra, Deities and Visionary Experience (Cham Springer, 2019), is based on fieldwork in India. https://linktr.ee/maniraopoem