Divya Victor

(Being an Occasional Poem for All Q&As Henceforth)For Jamal Cyrus and Tomás Morin, and all kith who make do to make work

“Do you also make work that isn’t political?”

I mean, do we make work

about where and when we were

raised: the three-whistle corner store

the empty coke bottle trill

the nickname that doesn’t nick us

as we blow through customs

with a toothpick smile

and hell-no eyes, sweet fools

greasing the bike chains

for this day, always saying

someone better fix this street

light? Do we flicker at night

when the kids are sleeping

dim, bright, dim, bright, do we?

Do we, at times, make work

about who breaks the news

to us at breakfast and how the syrup

she’s holding is now trembling, how

she’s beating, beating, beating

what no one can now eat, the mouth

fumbling for what no one

can now say? Do we make it

work with mirrors held

to the bottom of lakes, with combs

pulled through palms, with thumbs

flipping the bills, with two bags

and three names

at the border?

I mean, do we make work

about the road that crackles

with sirens or about Dad’s hydrangeas

which came up again that summer

violet clouds of bruises and pinker

than the Hubba Bubba we were popping

so loud, no one could stand us

but we grinned and grinned because

any air left in us meant

we could still answer

years later

a question like this?

Copyright © 2024 by Divya Victor. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 3, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.