Four Poems

THE RIVER

The river, a rushing beast
running rugged through foliage
scraggly and thick.
This deep out-breath of life
seizes me—
with thought to wind
and only heart, I relinquish—
together we are a clawing
prayer, ragged hymn.
Deep in the disappearing
savage currents I am

                          away
               afloat
engulfed

Me, a swaying sea kelp
tender and long and brittle bones.
Me, the bearer of silvered water moons
clutching breasts and whirling hair.
Me, the exalted one.

FEAST

In the jagged depths of lone nights,
in the rapture of river, water curtains part
trapping the cold gleam of moon in swift
chevron scales, the white span of belly
netted and gutted and bled on your table.

RAIN

Skywaters         descend       over
a   marble   love   tomb   staining   white
a   sharp   spring   leaf   burning   green
a    far    puddle    innocently    brown
water   bier   to   an   old   toad   belly up—
cause   of   death,   said   the   pathologist
as   the   diener   scraped   and   sliced,
something that is not love.

LEGACIES

I never knew the beauty of the pongamia pinnata blooms, till I saw a woman, slender and linen-clad,
wear   it   in   her   hair,   a   single   stem   in   loosely   wound   hair.

Now I see it through her eyes, see it lying on the ground, simple and unassuming. She wouldn't have
plucked it, no. She is that girl you may have known in school who was quiet and sure, delicate and
strong as bamboo reed, who saved a wayward ladybird by gently sliding a leaf under it and leaving it
by       the       roots       of       a       tree.

This woman, her hand would have reached down, the flower would have been lifted gingerly, her
companions stopping and looking back at her. Look, how pretty, she would've said. She may have
hesitated a moment before tucking it in her hair. She may have forgotten about it until she reached
home and unwound her hair, her hairbrush stopping short as she saw the stem caught in the tangle of
hair. She would have reached for an old, favorite book, the kind a silverfish is proud to call a home,
and  saved  the  flower  between  its  pages,  her  smile  a  reverie,  there  but  not  there.

Someday in the future, weeks, months, years later, her daughter may take that book out, catching the
now-brown flower as it is about to fall. Holding it between two fingers, delighted, she too would say,
how pretty.

When Anuradha Prasad is a writer and copy editor living in Bangalore, India. She writes poetry and fiction. Her work has appeared in Literally Stories, Bangalore Review, Sleet Magazine, and Borderless Journal.