by Scherezade Siobhan
A bathroom as white as the elephant it cradles. I,
Airavata – heaven’s milk-toothed cloud,
its neurotic satellite. Corbelled tusk; a
gorged spigot choking on henna-bled water.
Outside, my mother’s metallic croon roasting star
anise and black cardamom in a coppered skillet.
an animal more luscious, massages nectar
back into the meat.
Baptizes the prey with an oracular musk.
The kind of game that nurses you on
its marrow, lets you punish it to the last whisper
of a wishbone. I sleep in a pool of my own sleaze.
I wait for lightning to spear me
a crate of red berries. Red as my mother’s
coal-kissed hairline. Red as the bottle
whose belly we hollow for a sinless tenderness.
God asks you drain the heart to an indigo wrinkle.
Let exhaustion supple the arid muscle. Return
it to the tremble of its urchin vein. Foreign is not
filth; still a body poisoned by the silkweed it mothered
within. When you pray, it is only to choose what kind
of river will your deadwood serif : hunger is a woman
dragging turmeric over the broken bowstring of her lips.
This mouth is a benediction for stubborn houseflies;
can eat and lick a wound at the same time. I can see
her nose ring squint like a private ember. I hear her
breath snap between song and smoke. Pakeezah.
The one pure lie she can’t be loved away from.
Every Sunday in the verandah, the carcasses lay;
a zodiac of gutted chandeliers. Each with its lights
parched by a ham-handed exorcist.
All the men laughing into tin mugs, desi liquor
dribbling out on the goatgrass, their fingers
braided into the hunting knives. Their nails,
blood-tarred like the husking of a silence
redder than her bagged afterbirth.
‘Pure/پاک.’ has been shortlisted for the 2016 Berfrois Poetry Prize
About the Author:
Scherezade Siobhan is an Indo-Rroma social scientist, community catalyst and hack scribbler of two poetry collections: Bone, Tongue (Thought Catalog Books, 2015) and Father, Husband (Salopress, 2016); and one poetry pamphlet, to dhikr, i (Pyramid Editions, Forthcoming in 2017). She is the creator and curator of The Mira Project, a global, cross-cultural dialogue which uses expressive art and storytelling to dismantle gendered violence and street harassment. Her work is featured or forthcoming in Feministing, Berfrois, Rattle, DIAGRAM, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Word Riot among other digital and print publications, anthologies, exhibitions, art galleries and sometimes even in the bios of okcupid users. She is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee for writing and can be found squeeing about militant bunnies at www.zaharaesque.com or @zaharaesque on twitter/fb.