Three Months
in a Moment

by Suman Chhabra


 "the calling" by  Cher Musico  |  ISSUE THREE

"the calling" by Cher Musico | ISSUE THREE

 

Going to Gudwara

Cheti Chand
wishes from the steep
bumper of technicolor truck
Shiva face Hanuman face
betel leaves dragging behind
road between Mumbai
and Pune passing
waterfalls breaking
Maharashtra’s green with moving
ice dips in stomach
en route to cover my head
for the first time
half of me left in
mother's love
of american music
tradition splits
as we say this is the day
sun seeps into our spines
best

--

I open the small package of butter biscuits

+

consumption
of morning biscuits
evening biscuits
not counted
in the ways one decides to change
drink only black tea
no sugar
but what the British baked

I did not grow up in the immediate
Post-Partition
only told: Dadaji nearly captured
our home + factory left in Pakistan
how Hindus with their aum tattoos
+ Krishna tattoos were
herded hunted

++

the gentle inflection of herding,
to keep safe,
a sheepdog,
laughing circles,
draw you closer in love

to make one move:
Hindus Muslims
left right
across a British border

the way my uncle still clenches his teeth
as we sit for chai hour
passing namkeen and biscuits
from packages printed in English:
Good Day, Nice Time,
Hide n Seek

+++

we eat biscuits on either side
of a watery border
hidden in mouths + cupboards
bulk packages laid like bricks
on the shelves of the Indo-Pak grocery store
they promise: Nice Time, Good Day,
images of chubby babies

forced river crossing
count the lost, the loss
the water dragged
from riverbank to wheat fields
baked into biscuits

--

three months in a moment

we grieve together on the green line
smacks and swoops silenced
the quiet of submission
i'm crossing that out mentally
i want to say     resistance

the atoms along my spine blink their eyes fast
zip up and dissipate over both shoulders
they know this word

resistance as survival,
as marching, as writing
resistance’s base: no

to life that buckles serotonin

yesterday you were drying off in the shower
i heard this through the steam:
life is active living. if no living, then no life

--

Reach

+

harbour
harbour the understood
precarious shelter
pulled away ribbon shore
into dry hands
rubbing (like this: not together
but fingers reaching for palm)
a man in blue cap
blue uniform
standing alone making
this motion, the salt water
already absorbed into
his skin
keeping gates by dragging
back in self

++

the butter under
nails a new
means of smile
to heat the parantas
stove top
garam garam always
plate for every  one
humanity can't tie
itself to ice
seeking permanency
seeking a kindling
to burn collected egos

+++

how did you know
my spine a cello's baseboard
strings unhooked
stretched into ribs

the vibrato of aum
releasing
too tightly squeezed cells

i am stretching my ear
across a continent
to understand myself same
as the language another


Writer's Bio:

Suman Chhabra is a multigenre writer and cellist. She holds a B.A. from the University of Michigan and an MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Chhabra is the author of Demons Off, a chapbook through Meekling Press. She is a Kundiman Fellow and her work has been supported by Vermont Studio Center, Ragdale, Poemeleon, Hair Club, and Homonym. Chhabra teaches courses in Reading and Writing at SAIC.