Vismai Rao

I pause Duolingo to eat an apple

In the middle of committing nouns
to memory, the texture of crisp

in my mouth—
I eat the fruit, & its name, a neuron

in my brain already busy
matching the two. The trick

is to repeat, and repeat until imprinted
on each memory of a thing:

its name— The wind blows & balks
against my lips    unaware

of the cargo it’s made to carry.
How the tongue rises

to touch the roof of its dwelling
split second before it speaks

of itself—
Hungry, I cram all the names

for ocean, the earth of my mouth
bracing for rain—

Vismai Rao’s poems appear or are forthcoming in the Indianapolis Review, RHINO, Rust + Moth, Salamander, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Parentheses Journal, SWWIM, & The Shore. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and the Orison Anthology. She lives in India.

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