ISSUE FOURTEEN: La Mer Systyle | next poem →


Shankar Naryan

From the west an eclipse
is coming. It comes on the wings
of brown moths, browned and distorted
by incidence and angles of physics
and a human god. It comes from lightyears
through dark haloes of galaxies. I do not know where
in this body it originated, which
heavy element hid in what vein, what
called it forth. I do not know what
of this body it will tear
and take. But the spectrum of its power
whose wavelengths live within me
each one of my life’s hours
impels me. I know

it will remake the constellations
and us. I strain to see beyond
this continuum, live amidst theoretical things
distorted with parallax, energy
fettered on pages of equations
until I alone unleash them. I have learned new words
for the things I have found, a language of radionuclides
and other small things whose power
has grown immense. These are the words
of a transuranic future whose trinity

huddles in a corner blinded
by this new halo, an eruption diffracting glory
throughout creation like a supernova—
an eruption I know must end
inevitably in freefall to the single point
into which every black hole
must one day collapse. But
as I watch the brown moth hurl itself
again and again into the embodiment
of the flame that lives within it, I believe
without knowing

it is trying,
trying to emerge
transformed, or
in the alternative
to burn and burn
into something
pure as light—

Shankar Naryan explores identity, power, and race in a world where the body is flung across borders yet possesses unrivaled power to transcend them. A Pushcart Prize nominee and a 2016 Fellow at Kundiman and at Hugo House, Shankar draws strength from his global upbringing and from his work as a civil rights attorney. Shankar’s work appears in Jaggery, Panoply, Crab Creek Review, Raven Chronicles, the Litfuse Anthology, and the forthcoming Washington 129 Anthology, among other publications. In Seattle, he awakens to the wonders of Cascadia every day, but his heart yearns east to his other hometown, Delhi.

ISSUE FOURTEEN: La Mer Systyle | next poem →


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