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Excerpts from A Different Distance (2)

This time, winter comes

to Paris on stockinged feet,

no fuss, no fireworks,


until she’s layering breath

with frost and the pipes with gnarls.


In Vellayani,

my parents greet their wedding



by bracing their windows and

ears for Cyclone Burevi.


—KN, 3 December 2020



Ears attuned to sounds

at three in the morning that

are irrelevant:


techno party down the block,

wine shop delivery truck,


the pulse in my ears.

And sleep is over again:

dream conversations


on the Corniche, Raouché’s

wave-lapped rocks, kitchen table


that might be here or

some unvisited city.

Conversations stop


with the dreams; night continues

with its noises, my silence.


—MH, 5 December 2020



The noise, the noise shreds

all thought to silence. Inside

the dazzling white drum


(“a cylindrical super-

conducting MR scanner,”


the radiographer

corrects softly), I am mere

atoms of water,


each captioned by protons of

hydrogen, hurtling earthward.


Mere mass, off-kilter,

of drops rushing, lining, re-

aligning between


magnets and radio waves,

between rhythm and discord.


—KN, 12 December 2020



Discordant darkness

of curfew-emptied streets.

Saint Lucy’s Day past,


daylight will linger longer,

but when will sidewalks refill


with people heading

to movies, theatre, dinner,

ou que pour flâner?


On a screen, I watched white-robed

girls crowned with candles, singing


“Santa Lucia”

in another country, in

another language,


another year, when voices

wove, anodyne, in the air.


—MH, 16 December 2020