The Whole Deal
It takes much to be empowered: you must feel the lava spewing from your breath, rising from the volcano that hisses near your intestine, spilling over to turn the rivers red. It takes much to be empowered: to feel whole when bits of breast and ovary lie in plastic bags, dissected into bland reports that tell the world you’re well. It takes much to know the burning coal that lay inside of you is now a charred and empty space and the river is no longer red. It takes much to know you have scaled the mountain, scarred yourself with the ridges at your feet and you have almost touched the horizon where the sky bleeds black. It takes a special pair of molten eyes to see that untouched self and to meet yourself on the other side where the rivers flow no more. That’s when you feel empowered, that’s when you still feel whole.
Kites are flimsy, fragile, decorative, paper-thin, bearing their wooden cross, biding their time in airless drawers, hidden away from the sky. Kites are nasty, like women. sharp-edged, they fly against the clouds, bite into your hand. The threads they bear have hidden shards of glass, unfurling as they gauge the weft of wind. You who stand on the parapet edge, believing you hold the strings, look up where it hovers and rustles. Kites are nasty, they soar, they tug against the reins, catch the nearest squall and disappear. You will only be left with a stinging hand and an empty space above.
The television seeps through the wall like yet another nightmare. Somebody’s crying as usual, tomato ketchup oozing past a knife. And here, something else coagulates beneath my eyelash. Nothing they taught me in the chemistry lab prepared me for the iodine gas raging purple as a sin in my gut, some awful cure for a wound that turned to air. Sita, garish as a myth, lacerates me as she wails on the screen. So much motion trapped in a drawing room cabinet. I rock on the chair, remain exactly where I am, see Sita get carried away by the demon. Then, it is time for lunch. Later, the news comes on. The child, emaciated, is no longer even a headline. The reader turns to the latest cricket score. A bomb explodes inside my womb, but I survive till Sunday comes again, time for Sita to creep back through the wall. I slide the week behind me like grime, or rather, like a snake sheds its skin, swallow my past like a rabbit, whole, undigested, and it shows somewhere in the middle of my coil. I want to stick my fangs into Sita, but she vanishes just as I strike.
*These poems appear in Frazil (1980-2017)