Ode to the Broken Printer, Three Printers Ago

Photo: Sarah Sharaf-Eldien

Sunu P. Chandy (she/her) is a social justice activist including through her work as a poet, civil rights attorney, and LGBTQ+ rights advocate. She is the daughter of immigrants from Kerala, India, and has lived in the NW quadrant of Washington, DC for the last nine years. Sunu’s award-winning collection of poems, My Dear Comrades, was published by Regal House in 2023. Sunu’s creative work can also be found in publications including Asian American Literary Review, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Poets on Adoption, Split this Rock’s online social justice database, The Quarry, and in anthologies including The Penguin Book of Indian Poets, The Long Devotion: Poets Writing Motherhood and This Bridge We Call Home: Radical Visions for Transformation. 

Sunu has served in various civil rights roles for the past 25 years including as an EEOC litigator in NYC for 15 years, and here in DC as the Legal Director for the National Women’s Law Center until August 2023, and before that as Deputy Director of Civil Rights with the U.S. Health and Human Services, and as General Counsel of the DC Office of Human Rights.  In addition to serving on the board of the Transgender Law Center, Sunu is currently a Senior Advisor with Democracy Forward, supporting work to fight the attacks on racial equity and inclusion, and working alongside partner organizations to help build a nation that does right by all of us.


It’s almost like they need names.
The broken printer from when we lived
in the Argonne. The broken printer
from the apartment by Ginger’s in Park
Slope. The newly broken printer
just bought during the global pandemic.
The broken printer from East Flatbush,
and this one, from the Fort Greene studio.
E likes to repair things. She is pro-composting
and anti-landfills. And when something breaks
she keeps it, just to see what can be done.
With a reluctant nod to her values, I had kept this broken
printer much longer than planned. When she came over
one evening I said, I was done. She had
one more evening to fix the printer. In my studio
apartment with a three-year-old, we had no space
for broken things. One week before,
our friend had stayed overnight with our daughter
and we enjoyed our first weekend away
after becoming parents. E had told my parents
long ago that she was planning to marry me. I was utterly lost
at why I hadn’t come back from the North Fork
of Long Island, an engaged person. That didn’t help
my mood and increased the pitch that the broken
printer had to go. I gave her one last chance
and fell asleep on the couch. One hour later she wheeled over
on the office chair and woke me up. In jagged
lines going all over the page, complete with messed-up
lettering and too-light toner, printed over and over
on the page, there it was. Her repeated test-print:
Will You Marry Me?

Sandra Beasley is the curator of “Poetic Hill,” a resident of Southwest, and the author of four poetry collections. If you live in D.C. and you’re interested in being featured, you can reach her at sandrabeasley@earthlink.net for questions and submissions (1-5 poems).