Metrorail. A spent, amber streetlight.
There, a deer tearing at warm grass—
a nauseous-sweet mist rising
as from a Bangladeshi garden. Tomorrow,
the sun will climb over its carcass
with two words from a whirring car: road kill.
There is a house I cannot enter
at a certain time of day. Within its blank walls:
a sultry air of honey-spice, a clock, a sari
drying on a rack. I have sat there certain days
to slurp the curry. But not the nights when her mother
swells the house with the plume of spice,
not when her father washes and prays Bismillah.
I have only sent letters to her father and mother.
Pricey liquor. On black-lit cushions: tan, half-hidden thighs.
Musty squad car seats, the scratch of dispatch.
In rented rooms, bottles of smoke to inhale
as you clutch for the fridge, propelling you into sleep.
Too near, too near is the rail to pull me there.
And not far from there, my grandfather beneath soil.
Tonight, I do not go there. Instead, I enter my home, my bed, and
let the landscape bleed-in: forbidden house, black-lit street, graveyard.
Behind shut eyes, I visit all the places. I take a rail, a car,
and for my grave, a not-so-heavy plummet and thud
on my scratched wooden floor, nursing thoughts of Grandpa—
still, I cannot see whether, tomorrow, armored tanks will roll down
my leafy avenue—or will it be the sameness of
a forbidden house, a black-lit street, a graveyard?
Konstantin Kulakov was born in Zaoksky, Russia in 1989. His debut collection of poems, Excavating the Sky, will be published by Dialogue Foundation Books this winter. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Tule Review, Christian Century, Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy, Tidal Basin Review, and WildSpice. He is currently completing his M.Div. at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York.