Partition Homes


“Partition Homes” by Sneha Subramanian Kanta received third place in the 2022 Previously Published Poem Prize, selected by Palette editors. We’re honored to share this moving poem.

“Partition Homes” was first published in The West Review.

Partition Homes


Exile begins in the throat.
A lost body.

                   A forgotten horizon
                   or the shield of stars.

Ventricular. A harpsichord
with ocean, sand, and salt.

                   The checkpoint of fog—
                   mossgreen scapula.

A winter of absence
trucks lined in Rawalpindi

                   boats set off the shore
                   beside a dawning Jhelum. 


Exile begins in the throat.
An arrival.

                   How many words do I
                   know for hunger?

What is the nestling space
between two countries

                   of conflict called?
                   What is the name for basil

or the hinterland hills
or the city where my

                   grandmother first embraced
                   tenderness without speaking

of it? Again the roaring
winds across a tarpaulin.

                   Again another river
                   charcoaling at night.

You dream in three languages,
at least one of them despair.


                   Exile begins in the throat.
                   A departure.

The call of a cliff
or a gutter-stream.

                   Filament flourish, a violet
                   pattern synecdoche.

My grandmother left
a home

                   sailing across two countries.
                   A silent floating accompanies

the whirr of a ship. These
may be fangs, or a dagger.

                   Hinge. The soft gauze.
                   A day of massacre.


Exile begins in the throat.
A lost body.

                   Famished sky of vapor
                   clouds. An assembly

vortex. The trees fraction
into half. Where will you

                   grow thickness
                   if not into the landscape?

Remember. A family.
One daughter.

                   Two sons. Partition.
                   Welt. Ship. Rising tides.


                         —originally published in The West Review


Sneha Subramanian Kanta