The Kathmandu sky sliced with unlive
wires. Highways broken like bread
or a body. The Vishnu Temple: a pile
of sandalwood beams & too many prayers.
After five hours of trying, when the call
finally goes through & I hear
my mother’s voice, I learn
how to unash my lungs.
As I ran for the open field
I heard the house crack.
The line rattles. Is it her voice?
All day in Tempe, the sky is leaden
with the weight of spring.
The wind whips
the desert willows & Mexican blue palms.
A few drops of angled rain pelt
my window & then it stops.
Somewhere behind the bougainvillea,
Phoebe, tired of waiting for me to bring her food,
must be plotting a pigeon-ambush.
On Facebook, yet another picture:
the bust of a man in the ruins
of Kasthamandap. His breath
gnarled into the sal branches.
In this raw footage
shot from Swayambhunath:
How a city goes down & rises
in a pillar of ash.
Dear Himalayas, this morning I have nothing
to offer you. Not even a butter lamp
for your unwinged Garuda
or your one-thousand-year-old gods
now cursed to an exhale.
I sit at my desk & stare at the paper
white as the song of the earth
as it splits to womb so many Janakis.
Unable to find words, I write
& rewrite the silence.
My bones caw.
until prayer becomes my body.
Samyak Shertok holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Arizona State University. He is a Visiting Poet at the Mayo Clinic, where he, after interviewing the palliative patients and their families, writes poems for them as lyric medicine. He was the winner of the first edition of La.Lit’s Writing Nepal: A Short Story Contest.