Vismai Rao


Mother says she hasn’t found herself yet and there’s
little time. She holds an old ceramic mug in one hand

a drill bit in the other and is intently watching a man
on YouTube put holes into things:  it’s how you make vessels

suitable for saplings, apparently.

Her windowsill is a long row of wine bottles
with no wine, all sorts of ivies and ferns pouring out

her bathroom mirror a bay of newly acquired post-its
with little messages to self—  beyond is where she looks

to put on her day cream.

Afternoons                 she trades sleep

to sit with her sketch sheets & HB pencils bent over houses and fruit,
hillsides stark with shadow & light, drawing herself

out of a canvas of abstraction.

From old photographs she copies faces & hands, draws tall
vases with still dahlias, seashores

and roads—
miles & miles of roads, it’s how she masters perspective—

all her roads pointing to dimensionless dots
at their respective horizons:  here on paper,

how easily they reach their ends—


Vismai Rao grew up in Delhi, India. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in Indianapolis Review, RHINO Poetry, Salamander & elsewhere. Her poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.