NOURISHMENT

Richa Nagar, Originally published in Hungry Translations, 2019

Don’t be scared of my bony arms

you look so worried about

the pale yellow of my dry dark eyes bulging out of

sunken sockets on

my fleshless tobacco-chewing face

                She says 

                spilling guts out

                glass bangles cascading

                her laugh rumbling hail

                                mumbai monsoons 

                coiling the thickest darkest knee-length hair

                into a loose bun,

                stirring the sauce,

                turning over the paraanthha

                                on the tava

                rolling the next ball of dough

                                on the chakla

                she holds my gaze with hers

                a pledge she demands

                softly

                                no riddles today

                she laughs barely breathing 

These wiry fingers can

hold your face

without cracking

                                when you feel

                fatherless

                motherless

                loverless 

                childless

they will feed you

nourishing hot meals that calm your

anxious soul

                your fight

                                my plight

Eat!

don’t feel guilty I feed you

with my belly stuck to my spine.

i will feed your

mother, too,

if she will let me

if she will

remember

me a Budhiya 

in a sari, in a bindi

a dying body that lived

loved laughed hungered fed

not in this everyday attire

i wear for the world

fidelities demanded of me

acting

living

laboring

without compromising

Hansa, the Soul

processing

                desires

un-possessing

                attachments

dis-possessing

                dreams

re-possessing

                spirit

my own terms

                kicking sacred books

claiming religion

                namelessly

                                freely

                                                abundantly

                Hair bun waves

                wrists roast

                she smiles silently now

                                Closing my eyes

                losing myself

                                singing Hansa

                                the Soul

                                                again,

                                                yet again.

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