Aimee Nezhukumatathil


Aimee Nezhukumatathil (1974-present) is a Filipina South Indian poet from Chicago, Illinois. She received her BA and MFA from Ohio State University and has won a Pushcart Prize and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts among other awards. She is the author of the collection Oceanic, Lucky Fish, and Miracle Fruit as well as the chapbook Lace & Pyrite and the upcoming book of illustrated nature essays World of Wonder. Source

On Listening to Your Teacher Take Attendance

Breathe deep even if it means you wrinkle

your nose from the fake-lemon antiseptic


of the mopped floors and wiped-down

doorknobs. The freshly soaped necks


and armpits. Your teacher means well,

even if he butchers your name like


he has a bloody sausage casing stuck

between his teeth, handprints


on his white, sloppy apron. And when

everyone turns around to check out


your face, no need to flush red and warm.

Just picture all the eyes as if your classroom


is one big scallop with its dozens of icy blues

and you will remember that winter your family


        took you to the China Sea and you sank

your face in it to gaze at baby clams and sea stars


        the size of your outstretched hand. And when

all those necks start to crane, try not to forget


         someone once lathered their bodies, once patted them

dry with a fluffy towel after a bath, set out their clothes


         for the first day of school. Think of their pencil cases

from third grade, full of sharp pencils, a pink pearl eraser.


         Think of their handheld pencil sharpener and its tiny blade.  





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Childhood & Coming of Age

Education & Learning

Intersectionality & Culture

Racial Injustice

Literary Devices:


the repetition of the same letter or sound at the beginning of words appearing in succession


the absence of a conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so…) between phrases and within a sentence


an instruction or a command


a comparison between two unlike things using the words “like” or “as”