The following piece is the poetry winner of F(r)iction’s Spring 2023 literary contest.

for Ba (Dec. 10, 1927 – Aug. 22, 2021)

Though it’s hard to take them 
through a grocery store – or 

on a plane – or even ride
them into a conference

panel – or across your cubicle, second
home which is sometimes your first

– horses 

are an excellent emotional		support animal.

          Watch their ears as you prattle on – attunement as if your mouth were a prairie opening– 
          as if your tongue were the grass of their fondest memories. In the 90s, as we traveled hills 
          of Kashmir on horseback, an army lathi jangled. The horse, sensitive. My father’s horse: 
          sensed. Horse reared & swept forth, as if it could suddenly fly, nostrils 

as wings. After flying, it clattered on
          the mountainside, my father –

sensitive to the rock next 
          to his head, sensitive 
to what memories he might

have missed in mountains

                          to come, sensitive to this new desire
for sensation. In 2007, my grandfather burbled, a lack

of oxygen to his brain. I stroked his face as if it were

wet rock, whispered into his sensitive ears, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.

Perhaps these sounds reminded him of his own 	     mouth, morning
                                                                              mala japa. His burbling

receded. Some years later, I discovered in truly old
Vedic rituals, priests used to repeat Shanti before 

sacrificing horses. Horses are 	         sensitive, you
know, and must be calmed before slaughter. Rituals

today must not be too sensitive. My Dada

survived. Until four years later when
he died. Two weeks ago, I asked

my father how

my 93-year-old Ba
            is. “Ghoda 

jevi,” he says. Today,
we are all the horses

crossing rituals as if they were 	    nations – or 
loved ones – we could visit with visas – with

visas – we too could somehow 	        visit.