Edited and introduced by Gibson Fay-LeBlanc

This week’s poem explores the haunting silences found when looking into the past or the future. “Memory,” it tells us, “takes its retreat, / shuts the lights off, room by room.”

This poem appears in “Isako Isako” published by Alice James Books in Farmington. Mia Ayumi Malhotra is a founding editor of Lantern Review and has received fellowships from the VONA/Voices Writing Workshop and Kundiman, an organization dedicated to the cultivation of Asian American writing.


A Decade Later, You Return to Your Childhood Home

by Mia Ayumi Malhotra


No one knows the exact whereabouts

of the ovaries; some things we’re not

meant to remember. After your mom


died, you left your childhood home

for good. Ten years later, it’s intact

only in memory. We siphon slowly


through the city, watch the skyline

slide past. Crossing the Washington

Bridge, you’ve come home at last,


though some things we weren’t meant

to hold. Tumors are most frequently

found in the ovaries’ epithelium.


Pressing hand to pelvic crest, I imagine

the incision, sutures. Steel instruments

easing each organ apart. Though this


is where we all began, no one wants

to return. Memory takes its retreat,

shuts the lights off, room by room.


Still, something stirs. Life’s germ shifts

imperceptibly—the future, a tiny, single-

celled fact, a body humming with secrets.


Gibson Fay-LeBlanc is poet who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2018 Mia Ayumi Malhotra. It appeared originally in “Isako Isako” (Alice James, 2018) and appears here by permission of Alice James Books. For an archive of all the poems that have appeared in this column, go to pressherald.com/tag/deep-water.

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