Jaswinder Bolina


 House Hunters International
 They’d wanted the two-story two-bath 
 above the creperie in De Pijp,
 though they’d been willing to reconsider
 the budget for old-world charm
 and sleek, modern finishes in Zagreb,
 a quintessential hacienda in the hills 
 flanking Quito, or a lanai shading 
 the Russian district of Phnom Penh, 
 but what they’d really, really wanted 
 was Prague in a black & white movie
 adaptation of a book about Prague 
 in the 70s. They’d even read it in college, 
 and they’d known even then they wanted 
 other people’s architecture and pathos. 
 They wanted other people’s transit 
 and squalor. They’d been prepping 
 for years in unincorporated Atlanta
 when a job-call lit up their scopes.
 They’d tracked it to this bang-on-budget 
 studio nestled above the ornamental 
 fruit stands and decorative geriatrics 
 occupying a piazza at the city-center 
 of this other life they’d wanted to wear 
 like a pelt. And we watched their wanting 
 from a blind we’d erected in our living room,
 and we watched as they waded, timid at first, 
 into the liquid crystals of the television. 
 Then, more swiftly, their daggers clenched 
 between their teeth, they slipped beneath
 its pixilated surface. 


 House Hunters

 From a hill road above the thicket 
 of rickshaws, gelaterias, and brewpubs 
 crowding the high street, she caught sight of it 
 at dusk, perched in its flaxen and summer coat: 
 the house,
 as if lapping from the river, as if a ten-point buck 
 on a shady bank. She choreographed our advance
 out of the west, camouflaged in North 
 Face jackets and New Balance sneakers. 
 Papa hushed the baby strapped to his chest 
 in a Baby Bjorn. At half a klick, he signaled 
 for us to egress out of the realtor’s Citroën.
 The elder children knew to hide 
 our numbers in a single file. 
 She winked to us once
 before cocking her musket, 
 our doting mother,
 crack-shot and immigrant on the hunt.


Jaswinder Bolina is author of the full-length poetry collections The 44th of July (2019), Phantom Camera (2013), and Carrier Wave (2007), and of the digital chapbook The Tallest Building in America (2014). His debut collection of essays Of Color was released by McSweeney’s in 2020. He teaches on the faculty of the MFA program in creative writing at the University of Miami where he is currently completing work on a fourth book of poems.