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  • Kris Kaila

This Poem Is Queer

By Kris Kaila

It is about nature. I write about how digging in the dirt my hands can never uncover all the roots. My long fingers start to cup, spread, and then knead the soil. I see my mom in the kitchen, circa 1990s, making atta, her kara banging against the steel bowl. It is the same bowl she bought at Woodwards for $1.49, in the days I still wasn’t ready to bloom. I think about how gardening is important

in my family. I remember when we would leave my Mama’s house, we never departed without a plastic grocery bag full of vegetables. My mom’s green thumb is unlike anyone else I know (other than my Mama’s). I see her now at the window with her new walker, pointing out the plants that are not doing well. Tapping on the glass to get my dad’s attention to water the one in the corner a little more. She can nurse a plant that most would toss in the compost. But she is unable to garden like she once did. And, it is only now

that I see what maza pruning, plowing, planting was for her. This year, applying bandages to my ripped skin, I have thought about roots and ancestors. I come from farmers, Jatt, on both sides. And, I wonder, does that run in our bloodlines? Or, is it something that peels away when you settle on land that has been stolen from another? Will my interest in nature be a passing fancy, something

that turns into burrowing into my bed for days, when my mom is no longer here? So that I can no longer smell dirt and think…future. I grow poems. Most of the poems I write are a seed from memory or thought. I am the speaker, even when it’s not 100% factual. I dream it onto the page, like when my Bibi poured fables in my ears. Everything I write is

brown. It is like masra di dal my mom made, that I would call lentil soup everywhere outside of my family tree. Like the way my mom calls me Kris in the outside world. Or when I am alone, I roll words I learned from books inside my mouth till my tongue stops tripping on them. Then, learning to hold them back sitting at the knees of my Bibi. Words like ropes tethered to my ankles. Words like vine, too fragile to hold. Words that talk about

me like I am queer. Words that wrap me colours like I am Queer. If this poem is me…this poem is Queer. If this poem is me…this poem is my mom. If this poem is me…this poem is about nature.

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