On Negative Capability

—after John Murillo

by Sonia Arora


                   Camouflaged in coffee-colored parka,
I wait for Mumma on a frigid, sunny
                   day, staring at funnels of dust

                   Cells multiply - inside me, I peek out
—overflowing jacket,
                   a bulwark against cold edges                   of winter light.
Outside the window, ash meanders,

                   as incinerator burns peels of yesterday’s meal,
bottles once solid and shapely, now disassembled
                   bits, floating, here, there, everywhere
no path to guide their journey, from the 7th floor apartment,

not like geometric pathways of dust,
                   not like rhapsodic growth of girl. Stillness
is my best friend. That is when I see best.
                   Mumma recites prayers, her dupatta wrapped,
singing a prayer, mellifluous notes creating order.

                   If only I could be like Mumma, lithe and elegant.
Not haphazard angles and juts,
                   a cubist painting come to life. Mumma peers at time,
jingles keys onto her fingers

                   readies herself with lipstick, swings handbag
upon her shoulder, scolds me for just sitting,
                   rambles about the list of things to do, like buying
me a bra before the day is done.

Sonia Arora's work as a teaching artist takes her into classrooms across New York and Philadelphia where she explores oral history, digital media, poetry and activism with youth. She has published short fiction, poetry, and essays. Publications include: Apiary; Putting the Movement Back Into Civil Rights Teaching; Prompted, an anthology printed by Philadelphia Stories, Lunch Ticket, Sonic Boom, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Biostories and more. With funding from the Huntington Arts Council, she is working on a collection of poems entitled ReWilding: Native and Invasive Species. Sonia lives by the bay with her husband, son, and cat, Lucky.