Brian Chander Wiora


We had love’s routine pared down to the bone, pare,
from pere, which is Hindi, a language everyone asked if I spoke.
And at those long dinners that were more wine than food,

you looking at your phone, at pictures
of people you thought were beautiful,
I would think about the few phrases I knew.

In the language of my ancestors, you are not made a fool,
but an Ullu da pattha, an Owl’s disciple.
It reminded me of the night we hung string-lights

above your bed and called them the stars.
We watched each cheap bulb spill light then flicker,
one after the other, until they fell and splattered glass

all over the worn-out carpet. You laughed when I asked
if you owned a broom. So with our hands, we placed small pieces
into an empty garbage can, no liner, until only the invisible specs

cut our hands. Once, you lost a pair of earrings
your grandmother had given you. I bought you a more expensive pair
that you never wore. At the time, I thought

of the expression Ab pachtaye hot kya jab chidiya chug gayi khet,
what’s the use of crying when birds already ate the farm?
But now I think, Aam ke Aam guthliyo ke daam

that a mango is worth the price of the fruit and the seed.
When my uncle died of that disease we called a pandemic,
you put your hand on my back, in the place where wings should be.

You were saintly, which translated, means washed with milk.
When we watched my favorite movie, I learned you were not
a good liar. You said it was great, in that voice one tells children

about anything they attempted. But in Hindi,
a great movie is Khatarnak, deadly.
I have learned more words since you left me. I have learned

that an Indian man severely in love is called Devdas,
named after a character in a novel. Reading the book
with the free time I found in loneliness,

I could not relate to anything Devdas wanted.
In Hindi, the grass is never greener on the other side. Instead,
door ke dhol suhavne lagte hain. The drums sound better at a distance.


For ten years, I have worn your underwear.
Blue boxers, woven with polyester,
the tag hanging out the back

like hair in the wind.
I promise myself after each wear
to sew the threads together,
to learn how to sew, to thread a needle

with the wherewithal of dexterous fingers.
And then, the next wear arrives.
I remember

how you wore them, pulling them up
your naked legs, the way
silence succeeds a confession.
I remember lying in bed

as if it were the grass, loafing amongst
strewn sheets, pillows canvassing the carpet
with their blue and yellow patterns,

small flowers I would stare at
while you fucked me into puddles.

I remember everything
in the dressing room, trying on expensive shirts
simply because they were expensive.

I bought hats, scarfs, silk pillowcases, leather.
I knew you would not approve.
And so, I keep on

what you left behind, a pair of dumb boxers
which grow more comfortable after each year.
Ten years from now, I might understand

why you left me alone
with only your laundry.

Brian Chander Wiora is an Indian-American poet from Dallas, Texas. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Kenyon Review, American Literary Review, McNeese Review, Bodega Magazine, Florida Review, and other places. He graduated with an MFA in poetry from Columbia University in 2020, where he received the Creative Writing Teaching Fellowship.