Kalpita Pathak

Kalpita Pathak

Kalpita Pathak received the James Michener Fellowship for her MFA in creative writing and has taught at both the college level and in school programs for kids from three to eighteen. Kalpita is an autistic poet, novelist, and advocate with a passion for research and sensory-rich details. You can see more of her work at kalpitapathak.com

Ode to An Unbutton

She stops
in my doorway for a mere
seven seconds before leaving

for the day, enough time for me
to see the top
button on her dress
shirt is undone, uncovering

a glazed hint of previously hidden
skin. I imagine pressing my palm
on it – warm, olive and freckled
from hours spent
outdoors – breathing a scent clean

like dirt, like a sapling
stretching, fragile and sure
under the morning light. My parched

mouth seeks the moisture that collects
in a dew. I am a woman dying
of thirst and every drop
tastes of the Mediterranean Sea.
That exquisite, overturned

amphora: base at the pulse
of her throat; lip pursed just above
her radiant heart, beams, bright
and unblinding, bathing the world
around her. I want to lift up
that vital vessel and wonder aloud,

Utinam omnes cor tuum videre possent1.
(I know I did, even the first time we met.)

But, it is not mine to hold. So, I close
my eyes and give thanks
to the unbutton that opens
to me this archipelago of sun
and earth and water,

of seedlings
where for seven glorious, eternal
seconds, the two bodies
of our soul become one2.

1 “If only everyone could see your heart.” (special thank you to Callaina at latindiscussion.com for her translation, patience, and thorough insight on the various meanings of “heart”)
2 When queried, “What is a friend?”, Aristotle replied, “A single soul dwelling in two bodies.” Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), Greek Philosopher, quoted in Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, “Aristotle”, bk. 5, sct. 20


to Melpomene

you sing    tragic
mask dangling
from one hand    its silhouette
ephemeral in the sun-
bright garden            you wrap
your arms around
him from behind    his hair
like down against
your bare skin    feed him
slippery pomegranate seeds    one
after the other            tart juice stains
his lips    drips
his chin            a bloodied dagger
cinched at your belt            crimson matching
crimson            he licks your sticky fingers    greedy
    earnest    his tongue soft and warm as wet
earth            over
his shoulder    you see the next one waiting
and the one after him and so on    until
they become a smoky smudge in the distance
            and still you sing        your melody never
breaking            when his tablet
is full    he turns    clutching
his stylus    and falls
to his knees    burying his face
in your gown    full of desire
and guilt            the cloth puddles over
your cothurni as you give and give
to he who needs so selfishly            you are not naked
to him    you are redemption and muse
    fingers tightened through the sharp-edged
eye of the mask    blood sliding
down your palm            and still    you cannot release
your song            it rises
like heat    endless and joyous    ever threaded
to your aching throat    even as the line
moves forward    eyes and mouths open    hungry            needing
always needing
        the wreath of leaves you wear
on your head does not have thorns
yet it catches nonetheless    pulls
your hair out
    one strand at a time

Poetry in this post: © Kalpita Pathak
Published with the permission of Kalpita Pathak