Visiting Indira Gandhi’s Palmist

Each issue of the Journal of the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement features a folio of poetry.

Reprinted below is an excerpt from Kirun Kapur’s poetry published in JMI 6.1: Communicating Motherhood/Mothers Communicating in Popular Culture and Social Media, Spring/Summer 2015.

Kirun Kapur is the winner of the Arts & Letters Rumi Prize in Poetry and the Antivenom Poetry Prize for her first book, Visiting Indira Gandhi’s Palmist.

“Kapur’s poetry gives us an unforgettable glimpse into the bonds between mothers and daughters, tracing the connections between private history and the inheritance of kin—a timeless and necessary wisdom.”

—Jane Satterfield, Editor’s Notes
Visiting Indira Gandhi’s Palmist

I don’t know when I realized he had one eye that watched me, alive, the other free to read the heavens. Could he see I grew where others couldn’t? Could he read my face, in its lines all their faces—my aunt’s that morning, in the mirror beside mine, hissed, don’t stare, don’t forget details, it’s your honor to look for all of us. Did he see I hated his eye, sometimes, hated my honor: the hand always above me. Which eye reads that hand? Which eye can judge its weight? I wanted to look away. Wanted to cry. His untethered eye was milky as a teacup. Why have you come here, daughter? Couldn’t say, My father made me. Couldn’t blame, You looked at Her hand, but you didn’t save Her from a firing squad. I wouldn’t confess, I am afraid I’ll spend my life under a hand that I can’t stop or hold. He never touched my palm, imbedded with pencil lead, or the moon under my thumb, scarred while opening a can. He assured me I’d make a fine wife, a fine mother of fine sons, prove to be a credit to my family, while his iris swiveled like a wobbly fan. I made up my mind right then to open my hands—their forked wires, their lines of names and places—take them.

from Visiting Indira Gandhi’s Palmist (Elixir, 2015)

Kirun Kapur grew up in Hawaii and now lives north of Boston with her husband and son. Her work has appeared in AGNI, Poetry International, FIELD, The Christian Science Monitor and many other journals. Kapur is the founder and co-director of the Boston-area arts program The Tannery Series and serves as Poetry Editor at The Drum Literary Magazine, which publishes exclusively in audio form.

Visit Kirun Kapur at

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