Two Indian Canadian Poems

A photograph of a piano keyboard shot from one end
Photo by Geert Pieters /


The tea almost gone 
from our cups Ulla 
took off her glasses
Said she met Tomas Tranströmer 
in his house in Sweden
Schubert was playing
The moment he appeared
she’d bowed almost genuflected 
as if a saint walked in The smile 
on his lightly embarrassed
face betrayed nothing about
the recently lost hat  and
the stroke he had suffered 
which left parts of the body 
paralyzed Schubert kept playing
cooling the room
until the host turned
the radio off
got himself wheeled to the well-
lit corner and played for her 
the piano with his left hand


Not Absence of Body 

Not absence of body but its celebration  
My soul is a milky way of images swallowed 
and gulped  It moos 
sometimes malfunctions 
Parallel lines of border guards and refugees  
knock on its soft door 
At times a sudden yeti 
stands on it barefoot  
Every afternoon it is a warm bee  
ancestors—helpful guides  
and pure obstacles 

So much about it still  
an enigma The way it cleanses itself with long-dead  
languages  In its tiniest room  

I doubt my soul 
has hair or calcium But it must be  
a mammal It sweats the nights I think  
I pretty much deciphered the world 

Mostly it is sad 
but when my soul is happy  
it is happy as a well- 
aged father running  
toward the rusty gate 
to hug the child who after thirty 
years has returned home 

Jaspreet Singh’s short pieces have appeared in Granta, Brick, Walrus, Zoetrope, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, and the New York Times. He is the author of the poetry collections November and How to Hold a Pebble; the novels Helium, Chef, and Face; the story collection Seventeen Tomatoes; and the memoir My Mother, My Translator. Dreams of the Epoch and the Rock, his newest book, will be published this fall.