Mia Ayumi Malhotra

Perseids: Family Notebook

for P and K, in celebration

Summer’s long, drawn-out spectacle streaks
across the sky. We huddle under August’s
last quarter moon, a starry cathedral unspooling
overhead, holding the patchwork of our lives.

In early morning, a woman fits the pieces
of a quilt together. A mother bakes a pie.
Somewhere in the Oregon dark, or faint glow
of California hills, a family readies for the day.

We are mere witnesses to our lives, so much smaller
than we think. Moments lost in the maize,
nothing ahead as far as the eye can see. No map
to speak of, just an uncertain orbit through space.

How the hedgerow grows toward itself, reaches
into emptiness to fill the gap, to make a home
from nothing. What it means to be held—
to hold, be healed. How a person can become

an old truth, familiar as a pair of wool slippers.
How brave you must be to live it, this life
you’ve chosen. The heart, a known comfort,
a place to come home to, blanketed in dark.

Mia Ayumi Malhotra is the author of Isako Isako, a California Book Award finalist and winner of the Alice James Award, the Nautilus Gold Award, a National Indie Excellence Award, and a Maine Literary Award. She is the recipient of the Hawker Prize for Southeast Asian Poetry and the Singapore Poetry Prize. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family, where she tends a garden.