Kalpita Pathak

Original Work.


From Mediterranean Poetry:

From Poetry Life and Times:

Shiver In the Himalayas

Curving down

the mountain, a glacier arcs


the skinny road. We hurtle

beneath ancient icicles

dripping sacred water,

wintry summer sun flaring.

A bus skids around the bend

toward us, men perched, perilous

on the roof. We pull to the edge,

wheels kissing,

         on the verge

                 of letting go.

The altitude dizzies my head.

I can’t fly, so I fight, staring down

the broken brake lights of car

caught in a tree growing sideways

between us and the twisting

unbound river below. From behind me,

you tug on my curls.

Every root tightens, taut hills rising

on my skin. The cool air parts

as your hand moves to rest

on the seat back by my neck.  


– Kalpita Pathak


The holidays, rolling


after another

like a snowball


brings us


Winter myth.

We are alone

in the cold, leaves turned

inward, dormant

until the sun melts the sheet

of ice draped over

us. Then we unfurl, reaching

out again.


– Kalpita Pathak

Colossal Silhouette  

She’s always there, at times

a shadow in the corner

of my eye, like a squiggly

peripheral floater. Other

days, she slides

into full view, a colossal

silhouette looming over

me, smothering and cruel.

She is Kalpita-Who-Could-

Have-Been if only

I had known. My last good

year was eight, nearly four

decades ago. Kalpita-


age. But we are drawing

closer, the seams

of our edges embroidering

together. She listens

to sunlight dancing

on leaves with me, snuggles

against my back when I

sleep, watches the world

through my eyes and

or beside me.

No longer looming, she walks

hand-in-my-hand, both of us

eight both of us forty-eight

both of us alive in this one body.


– Kalpita Pathak


It feels like fire

on your skin. Under

it. Inside. Round

and red and hot as the tip

of a cigarette. You know you

shouldn’t. It’s a bad

idea. Feels so damn satisfying

in the moment

but lousy in the long

run. The question isn’t, Is it good

for me? The question is,

Is it worth it? You ask yourself

that as your fingers slide

                                        down, nails

freshly cut and unfiled

so they are sharp and ready

to scratch that itch. Is it worth it?

They find the mosquito bite and oh yes,

it is. It really is.


– Kalpita Pathak


We aren’t alone, he whispers, hair

feathering my bare skin. I sit up

What? Yes, we are. – and flip

the switch to find Bini staring

at us, her brown eyes like pools

of warm light. I laugh. Really? The dog?

She doesn’t care. She’s seen me

do this before. He sort of

as if I’ve killed the mood. My professor.

He told me he hasn’t done this before

but I don’t believe him. I do believe

he’s unaccustomed to it, thought.

Not like those other ones who saunter

into class and shake their slightly too

long hair and smile at you as if

you are the only thing in the world

worth looking at. As if you are tenure

and sabbatical all rolled into one. No,

this one’s furtive. No ring on his finger.

No tan line, either. Then again, I often

believe the wrong thing. He tears the black

wrapper and condom glows

like a ghost emerging

from the shadows.

Bini takes it in her mouth and runs

to the other room. I laugh again

but it’s the only one I had

and of course, he didn’t bring

any protection. Before he can offer

to go to the store, his page

goes off. Beepbeepbeepbeepbeep.

Urgent. Someone expecting him

to call back this hour. I slip

out of bed to follow Bini. Smile.

You’re right: We are not alone.


– Kalpita Pathak 

Spring Cleaning: The Photograph of Better Days

I find it, wedged in the corner

between my bed and the wall,

fingerprints and powdery ash

smeared over it. A yellow crescent

of scotch or maybe coffee. My niece

is laughing as I swing her in the air,

her bootied pajamas terry-soft,

like a towel in my palms.

I’m in a swimsuit, having just

done the laps that strengthen

my heart for these rough times. 



– Kalpita Pathak



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Poetry is not only a dream and vision; it is the skeleton architecture of our lives. It lays the foundations for a future of change, a bridge across our fears of what has never been before.

~ Audre Lorde