papa has told me this story so many times.
he was young and in the bath, heard his mother
calling his name. there was a bird in the house, it flew
in through the window. he got out of the bath to catch it
with her. he told me how they caught it and let it go.
i like to imagine the room covered in feathers like pillow fights
in the movies. he tells me she was beautiful, and i believe it.
i believe it looking at her wedding picture on my nightstand
that i stole from papa’s room so long ago. i’ve always wondered
about the color of her skin and if her hair had hues of red
by her neck like mine does in the summer, but i’ve only seen
her in black and white. her name was hardeep, and i wonder
how she liked it. if she noticed how it rolls off the tongue
or if she knew it meant light. my parents stole the first three
letters for me, and it’s heavy on my shoulders
to carry her name. heavy like the water in the bathtub.
heavy like cars on the road, like the one that crashed into hers.
papa tells me how they were going to rockefeller
center to see the christmas lights. i picture a boy of five
who looks like my brother in the backseat. he says he saw
her head, dented. i don’t know where you go when you die,
but papa hopes she’s watching us. he’s felt her next to him,
he says he wishes she knew me. i tell him maybe she does.
years after she was gone, papa learned in english class
that when a bird flies into your house, it means something bad
will happen, it means someone will die. sometimes i wonder
if somehow and somewhere that long dead bird has feathers
that are still on the ground. still tainted by her fingertips.
not white like the feathers from pillow fights in the movies
but coated in dirt and mud and rainwater and maybe even
the scent of the lotion she used. when she caught that bird
and let it go, i wonder if following it ever entered her mind.
or if she thought about how you’re never supposed
to touch a bird. or maybe she didn’t think much about
it as much as we do. she’s never seen that memory broken
and dissected. for her, it was just a bird and her little boy.
running and laughter and floors wet from bathtub water.
opening up the window and letting him go.
—from 2020 Rattle Young Poets Anthology
Why do you like to write poetry?
Harkiran (Kiran) Narula: “I like writing poetry because I learn more about myself in doing so; I uncover feelings and thoughts that only writing can bring me to realize. Writing is the only way to sort out everything in my mind. To me, poetry is honest, raw and very vulnerable. Writing poetry is one of the only times I can be completely myself.”