Poems by Suchita Parikh-Mundul

 

second skin

I drank the shade

of my skin

the day I was told

my colour was unwelcome.

I became a liquid pool

with milk, sugar

and ginger added in.

I tasted sweet

and yet I burned

in the throat

of those

who spoke my name.

Steam arose

from my surface

like pearls emanating

my body,

each one telling the

story of a little girl

who eventually chose

the colour of tea.

a girl who swallowed

all the evenings

in big gulps

and filtered them

into tones of earth,

sand and soil,

with granules

of identity swirling

like a tornado

deep within

its sediments.

If you ask me what

I taste like now,

I’ll tell you

I’m the flavour of equilibrium.

I allow the sun

to dawn over me,

I allow my skin to feel,

I allow myself to be.

 

kintsugi

I shatter like a crystal cascade

shards scattered to perfection

a pretty implosion

fragments reflecting the light

glinting in the politest manner

falling to pieces unobtrusively

laying in bits like a jigsaw

until I am haphazardly fused

continuing neatly as before.

 

the fault-lines are visible

intricate fractures

arteries hidden beneath the skin.

 

a delicate figurine

encased in a vitrine

breaking apart

and mending ad infinitum.

 

I am documented as

a living artefact:

dimensions and flaws noted

contours scrutinised

statistics feigned

described in academic phrases

lined with inscrutable science

a model of culture

a shadow of truth

a subject of anatomy

studied at length

transformed into a rag doll

voiceless, abused, torn

abandoned.

 

I become a woman:

jagged edges shaved

with normative blades,

broken surface levelled

with modest shawl,

serrated voice smoothened

with orchestral breadth,

identity smothered

within insular home,

buffered by the blindness

of seeing eyes,

standing in one piece,

translucent, minutely stained,

with lines running

through like kintsugi.

 

 

 

the examined

dismantle my breath and watch

it erode the air you breathe.

listen to its cadence punctuate

the thrum of the outside

where flowers multiply

and die like fallen stars.

map my face to trace

the darkest hours of solitude

where space and time invade

my sanctuary.

rock the cradle where I sleep

with eyes open.

look into the hollow

that forms my pupils

and lists the days I didn’t

make it out of bed.

watch the sun levitate

like a ghost misunderstood.

watch the night owl guard

forgotten nightmares.

excavate the fissure

where a smile once

cracked the cheek.

or turn a blind eye

when I look to you.

it is what I’m accustomed to.

 

 

Suchita Parikh-Mundul is a freelance writer, copy editor, and poet. She has worked with magazines and websites. Her poetry has appeared in Sahitya Akademi’s Indian Literature, online literary magazines Muse India, Cerebration, Hakara, The Pine Cone Review, and in international anthologies. A collection of poems, Liquid Apnea, was published by Sampark, Kolkata in 2005.

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