If the meaning of the prayer was not passed down to you,
find it through holier means than translation.
Cling to the rhythm instead.
If you were not taught the rhythm, memorize the clang
of knife against yam against wooden cutting board.
Keep it ringing, ringing in your ears.
If not the ring,
then the Bombay jazz club
and its green lanterns swaying in the long, long night
If you were not given the religion, then at least
Boompa’s rosary beads,
with their memories
indented in thick amber,
the gold Zarathustra hanging from a neck
and tattooed on a sunburnt back.
If the traditions were never taught to you,
then cling to tea time always served at 2pm.
Display the cups and remember
elders do not take their tea with sugar,
like you do.
You have only a fraction of their blood.
You thicken your water with milk.
If home did not fit in the carry on compartment,
then the sprigs of lemongrass from the garden will do.
The tea bags brought from India will do.
The reusable garland will do.
The passport’s golden lions
show a compass of 3 directions.
The fourth will do, too.
With its back facing you,
and its open jaws the homeland.
If the orthodox genealogy did not show up to the altar
of any of the son’s weddings, identity will celebrate
the melting pot mothers. Inheritance
blooms a grateful garland
around the brownish baby’s plump smile.
Her laughter, an anthem.
Her heartbeat, a golden rhythm.
by Azura Tyabji
from Split This Rock