Dream Daughter in the Pandemic Barbershop

When fever washes
across the city, arrives
finally at the shores
of her home, childhood
returns for her at last.
Her mother making
chaat-papri in the kitchen,
her father rising early
to juice oranges by hand,
and her, in the garden,
memorizing root-verbs,
and catching the same
rabbit daily. One thousand
and one nights of cold
coffees, pomegranate seeds
with her sister on the
condemned highway,
driving along the coast
of the inland sea, poured
into each other’s cupped
palms like jeweled wine
from a ziplock bag.

She gives her father
a haircut in the kitchen
and as the scissors
flash, everyone gathers
together to watch.
Sated, over-contented
with all the attention,
at last, he falls asleep
in the chair. Why could
it not last this way, for
a hundred, thousand years?
She is learning lessons
from her mother that
her mother has learnt
from her; she is growing
comfortable living
out of a car, a suitcase,
a series of warm embraces.
She is carving out,
for herself, at last
an answer.

Malvika Jolly (b. 1993, Rouen) is a writer and literary translator. Her poetry, essays, and criticism are featured in Canthius, Chicago magazine, Frontier Poetry, Liminal Transit Review, The Margins, MIZNA, Poetry Online, Poetry Northwest, Salt Hill Journal, South Side Weekly, Violet, Indigo, Blue, Etc, and Voicemail Poems. She is a 2022 Visiting Artist-in-Residence at Compound Yellow and a Senior Editor at Poetry Northwest. She curates the New Third World, a reading series inspired by the Non-Aligned Movement.