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Winter 1998, Volume 15.1



Anil Oommen

Anil Oommen was educated at the College of Wooster and San Francisco Theological Seminary. He has worked with the homeless and taught elementary school.


first death

today i was raised up
into valliapachan's soft new bed
his beard
long and flowing
its gentle whiteness
so still

the length of his arms
refuse to reach out
his eyes
with their usual wrinkled invitation
remain shut

my lips gently press
against the bone of his cheek
his thin skin too pale
and cold
this is not my great-grandfather
i know

only yesterday we embraced
he rolled rice into little balls
his fingers caressing my four-year-old lips
only yesterday i climbed onto his creaky, hard cot
and rolled myself up
into his soft white beard


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