Genuflecting at LAX

by Mehnaz Sahibzada

        You are searching for
        quilted lentils     right
        hand in pocket

        because even on the
        days your thoughts
        blur like a bhangra
        dance out of focus
        you know the circles
        keep you steady

        maybe today you'll
        spin past the broken
        windows shattered
        deep     past the empty
        carousels pointing
        to infinity

        but your pocket's no
        opium den     no magic
        hit that can take you
        under     so you find
        yourself in a noisy
        restaurant where a glass
        of water costs ten dollars

        and the woman ringing
        you up looks like she's
        hummed a Bollywood tune
        more than thrice     could
        spot a khadi at the beach

        you want to ask her the
        question skidding your
        chest like a plane on
        runway     the one that's
        kept you moving the long
        years     because she reminds
        you of those swamis you once
        saw on TV carrying a palanquin
        in the heat     bearing the
        burden without rushing.

        But the sane and civil
        do not profit from the
        inductive reasoning of
        your mind     you have
        lived too long a drifting
        bluff     pounding
        piebald theories in your
        head     slinking your way
        into the sage inside you

        you have knelt too
        long in the mirthless pit
        searching for faces
        that coax you tender

        yet here she stands giving you
        your change     smiling in
        a way that resists platitude

        and you want to ask her
        for lentils     just a
        handful to tuck away
        and keep in your woolen
        coat     but you turn around
        sipping your water for
        distraction     you should
        have ordered gin.

        That's when the ocean
        comes flooding out of
        your suitcase     drowning
        the restaurant     the woman
        the pockets in your
        coat     pushing through your
        empty hands.