by Anjali Pajjuri
there are bhajans in these wicker chairs;
Kali’s warnings etched in persimmon.
turmeric and half-dried yoghurt massages,
coconut oil, sandalwood soap bars:
all yield alabaster//virginal thought.
strawberry milk cools my cupped palms as
camphor winds carry mustard seeds and colonialism.
emerald moon, a female scorpion
paddy-field men push chariots laden by Aunty’s gossip (kalu!)
in the marsh lies a kingfisher choked by tamarind’s veins;
but wasn’t i taught that temptation is a virtue?
i praise the milkmaid for her kindness and
recite this incantation:
Mother, undo me.
I rebirthed this fertile valley from my punctured breast;
its blood suckled brown sparrows and stained okra plants.
Thence, lay me down, if my in-laws will merit it.
Creator, Divine Feminine, Sun-Gatherer, Desire me this.
serving uncles tangerine biscuit and tea on a plastic tray,
i wonder; i admit.
my consciousness is infinite, but my vices endow me.
Bhajans: Songs with religious/spiritual significance in Indian religions.
Kali: Hindu goddess of doomsday and death.
Kalu: Indian colloquial term for “Black.” Negative connotation.