My friends, I have a small gift for you that I hope you'll accept: a fumbling & uncertain & honest reading of one of my favourite poems I've written, filmed while I was nestled in the gorgeous sanctuary of Virginia last year. That time of sun on my toes & joy in my chest feels too far away now, but watching this takes me back to that beautiful distance. Performing this piece was a rather nerverwracking - yet, simultaneously, an utterly glorious - experience. Perhaps I might share some of that butterfly-fizz-soft light with you today.
This is called "Love in Goddess-Speak" & was taken from my first chapbook, Heaven or This. I've also attached the full text here, if you'd prefer to read it.
A reminder that I'm able to share my art with you for free because of the generosity of my lovely Patreon fireflies. If you enjoy my work, please do consider showing your support in a tangible way.
Enjoy. I cannot wait to hear your thoughts in the comments. xox
Love in Goddess-Speak
The first time I realise I am in love
with a girl, I am two moments past ghosting
and every single cup of chai sneers as I pass.
I wish so desperately to be anywhere
but in this family. Somewhere catatonic,
with no lungs for knowing.
I am in love with a girl who has light skin
and glass-stained eyes, and this is just
another way of pronouncing star-crossed,
autumn, the worn-down temple elevator
when it grinds to a halt for no reason at all.
I am Indian in the way of American accent
and smiling in Tamil when the relatives come
to visit. Call me creature cobbled from medulla
and the rhythm of song in a foreign tongue.
My mother’s cousin squeezes my cheeks,
asks when I will find a nice boy to settle
down with. None of this is revolution, nor
giant solitude, but I want to remember what
the sky looks like when the world ends.
In private, I disappear in her soft arms. In public,
my uncle teases me about boys, pokes my ribcage,
mistakes the tears leaking out of the corners
of my eyes for good-natured laughter.
My body is a country pulled three different
ways, trampled into topography of wanting.
I read myths of goddesses who rolled
India into their palms, conquered
without blinking. Who baptised their souls
with blood from another aching land, who
refused to let memories pull them under.
I curse profusely. I dream of her mouth. I
do not let the words I bet Kali is a lesbian
slip out of me at family reunions.
My cousins side-eye me when I laugh at
a sexual innuendo, wolf pack wondering.
Later they will go home and speak fast in
Hindi about my scandalous shoulders, how
they peek around the edges of my sari like
something not meant to be remembered.
I love her in the way that I love garlic naan
and the feeling of a temple after dark.
My mother passes the prata, alu curry. In this
life, I am girl with hair cut short and heart
too big for my body, too afraid of seizured
legends and my cousins’ warring tongues.
I ignore the questions cascading around me.
With one hand I eat the food of a land I am
learning to call my own, even as it pushes me
further away. With the other I send her
text messages under the table, feel
the ground beneath my feet return to holy
as I do.