This poem roots the author to their Tamil ancestry after years of shapeshifting in various western communities with the hope of belonging. In their journey of redefining what community is to them while healing the fragmented parts of their identity, they find healing in Chicago’s Lake Michigan shores with the belief that fresh water can heal wounds, too.
After Anju’s “Fill Into Me”
I come from a sea faring people; lineaged
in currents spiced with saffron threads
staining everything we touch
with something you cannot
quite place on your tongue; delusion
that lick of salt on your lips
to hydrate me for decades on end.
Moving at intrepid speeds in borderlands.
I am unmoored.
Expeditiously snaking through
passages like sewer drains; Slime sticking
onto my oil lacquered skin. Braving monsoons
to trade my gold bars for their white hot silver coins.
It’s time to return to sea clearing again,
gather each grain, smelling salt me
to trust-fall out of love; grow legs so I can walk
back to me, my homeland.
Fill into me so I can spill
fresh water from my mouth back
into my golden
palms. I am ready now,
let the water heal me.
About the author: Shivani Kumar is a poet from Worcester, Massachusetts. As a trained transportation engineer, her work is guided by her passion of connection; connection to destinations, opportunities, and self. Her poems pull a reader into a world where they can find themselves arriving to emotions and memories that are limitless and can nurture healing in a world that often does not create the necessary time and space for such renewal. She is currently working on her first poetry book that holds themes of community, belonging, and identity as a Tamil-American woman. Her work can be found in Chicago’s South Side Weekly’s The Exchange column. She resides in Chicago, Illinois where you can find her attending poetry open mics and workshops, buying yet again another book, or exploring the breathtaking lake front.
You can reach her online:
About the Illustrator: Damiane Nickles (he/him) is a painter and illustrator working out of Chicago. He holds a B.F.A. in Illustration from Syracuse University and completed his first solo exhibition in June 2022. When’s he’s not creating artwork he’s diving into spirits as a Brand Manager over at Apologue Liqueurs.