“In your car, you track the distance of lost homes” by Purvi Shah

Black geometric shape spiderwebbing across the field of view under a grey, cloudy sky
Sheltering Sky, Purvi Shah

In rotation between constant work & sped-up sleep, they would race
against loneliness, together in a borrowed car from Chicago to New

York City, land of a million lights & a couple
of old friends. They were new, broke, hunched

in the shadows of hospital, still wrapped
in their 70s flowers, mismatched slacks, and loud

accents, breathing

the dusty air of the Sabarmati, waiting
for some future of exiled ease, migration

of want. Tonight, 30 years later, you, one more immigrant
                                                                                seed, alone

burn your engine through untracked

             snows, making my elders’ journey for reunion
in reverse, your spent scrubs rumpling the back

                                        seat, absence exhausting.

              In the quiet of the patientless
night, you ask not how can you stay

alert but how to drift
into comfort-filled

sleep, how to recall your hands

             from the revival of that other drive, the one
which rested time

             & again at the clasp
of her hands. This – the sudden

surrender of your grit to grace is a sojourn
                         never imagined: city kid spun

into city surgeon.
                          Even the memory

            of hands aches, these tools you now use to screw,
to plate, to hammer, to fuse, the rotated river

to palms seasoned to stroke, soothe, clasp,
                          calm. What is distance

                          if not love in need         of nearing? What is love
                                       if not distance nearing?                          At a distance
           what is love?                    This nearing: is it
                                       home? Enough of the circling

questions: you curl
your fingers around

                          wheel, living rotated as leaving,
             leaving rooted as living, recall

                          your rue – again,
sheltering this homeless sky.


Purvi Shah’s favorite art practices are her sparkly eyeshadow, raucous laughter, and seeking justice. She won the inaugural SONY South Asian Social Service Excellence Award for her leadership fighting violence against women. Her new book, Miracle Marks, explores women, the sacred, and gender & racial equity. With artist Anjali Deshmukh, she creates interactive art. Their participatory project, Missed Fortunes, documented pandemic rituals and experiences to create poetry and visual art, connection, and a community archive for healing.