Vidyan Ravinthiran


isn’t doing something about the problem
—train yourself out of these thoughts
. So
they say. But I think of my dad
coming upstairs to ask in his quiet, sad
voice, “Can we leave in ten minutes for the station,”
even though it’s an hour till my train
back to you, and he doesn’t want me to go.
His father’s fists turned him mild as a Jain
to his son, me. A boxing champion,
he’d jog in his crop-top round the lagoon
hunting snakes. Then he flew here alone. No wonder
our tribe is of the worrier-caste, thinking always
of the vanished countries of the past and future
—to draw a line between, and know that we abide.

Vidyan Ravinthiran teaches at Harvard and is the author of Grun-tu-molani and The Million-Petalled Flower of Being Here, as well as a prize-winning study of Elizabeth Bishop.

Image: Edward Ranney, Corridor, Ciudadela Rivero, Chan Chan, 1992, Metropolitan Museum of Art.