Tamilian in Paris
The restaurant served idly and dosai around
the corner from Notre Dame, before the fire,
in a perfect union of India and Europe, while
at my table a waitress asked for my order.
I recognized her as a fellow member of
the lost tribe. We spoke in French of how
she left the North as a teenager, escaping
bombs on rooftops and strafing of palmyrah
trees. She got out with an elder sister,
a brother sacrificed to the fight for Eelam.
I felt her sadness as she spoke, and how
twenty years later she has yet to return.
I said I wrote poetry, much of it about
the island and its uncivil war. I gave
her Sur l’île nostalgique, a book I wrote
about another island home, in Haiti.
But all islands are one, circles within
a circle, planet spinning in the deep
ocean of space but tied to light,
to the Sun. If I were to return
to Paris, would I find her again?
Would she have managed by then
to go back to that home spinning
in mind beside the Bay of Bengal?