As Basilosauridaes fossilize
my language petrifies,
though there are vestiges inside
my brine that birth me daily,
though Hindi no longer lines
my tongue or accessory denticles.
I feel deep tympani, not in hind
limbs, the calcium of sacral
vertebrae, not the daggers of teeth,
nor the alembics of DNA.
O Aji, the litany of your throat
on the SS Jura you stowed
to sea, haunts. A head submerged
hums your wail that guides
calves into breach. I carve you
like a poem into a whale bone
strung around my neck. I wear
your strains like jewelry,
score your femur into coil.
Winner of the 2014 Intro Prize in Poetry by Four Way Books for his first full-length collection The Taxidermist’s Cut
(Spring 2016), Rajiv Mohabir received fellowships from Voices of Our Nation’s Artist foundation, Kundiman, and the American Institute of Indian Studies language program. His poetry and translations are internationally published or forthcoming from journals such as Best American Poetry 2015, Guernica, Prairie Schooner, Crab Orchard Review, Drunken Boat, Anti-, Great River Review, PANK,
. He received his MFA in Poetry and Translation from at Queens College, CUNY where he was Editor in Chief of the Ozone Park Literary Journal. Currently he is pursuing a PhD in English from the University of Hawai`i.