Plain China


by Mehul Bhagat · Emory University
"2", Julia Broeker · Grinnell College

His parents hold him over

            his brother’s grave, explain how

he is his brother born


again. It is the miracle

            of rebirth, renaming, reclamation.

The day of his birth the mother is taken


in distress, gazing at her newborn

            child. The mother

has named the son in the guise


of love, chosen to think of both sons, living

            and dead in a single invocation:

Salvador. And in his portrait


Dalí has rendered his brother

            a specter. Detailed in a cascade

of cherries, the dead Salvador is framed


as a sum of parts, composite of molecules

            spelled out by light. In the mirage

the face emerges, beautiful


and threatening. In the right

            corner of the piece

he bears the weight


of his name. Each day,

            I sound out my name,

its interplay of letters, searching


between knowledge and grief,

            for some inheritance—

perhaps to carry, like the nameless mother


some quotient of the dead.

About the Author

Mehul Bhagat · Emory University

Mehul Bhagat is an entrepreneur, poet, and designer. A Woodruff Scholar at Emory University, his recent poetry has appeared in The Adroit Journal and Southern Humanities Review, where he was a finalist for the 2015 Jake York Prize in Poetry. The founder of Mystro, an education technology startup, Mehul works to expand access to one-on-one tutoring and personalized learning. "Reincarnation" first appeared in The Adroit Journal. 

About the Artist

Julia Broeker · Grinnell College

Julia Broeker split their time at Grinnell College studying art and anthropology, with occasional breaks for food and friends. They currently reside in limbo and happily expect  to remain in between for the coming years. "2" first appeared in The Grinnell Review.