A bride’s ransom of tangled sari, skin
that holds the hush of loam and leaf,
the soil’s damp-breathed kiss. Once,
I was untouched and still you asked for proof:
my feet on fire-threaded coals—soft
as lotus petals. Pressed into the ground
until I dissolve into hair, silt, cloth.
A lucky girl: blessed by gravel and dust,
a pretty neck strung with pebbles.
My virtue: a heavy hem pulled down,
dirty blooms choked into the slender vase
of my throat. Bury me with my hurt:
skinned and spare, with my voice:
the soot of black strands, flecked bone.
This selection comes from the poetry chapbook The Goddess Monologues by Vandana Khanna, which is available to purchase here from Diode Editions.
Vandana Khanna was born in New Delhi, India and attended the University of Virginia and Indiana University, where she earned her MFA. She is the author of two full length collections: Train to Agra, winner of the Crab Orchard Review First Book Prize and Afternoon Masala, the co-winner of the 2014 Miller Williams Arkansas Poetry Prize. Her chapbook, The Goddess Monologues, won the Diode Editions Chapbook Competition, and was published in March 2016. Her work has appeared in journals such as The Missouri Review, the New England Review and Prairie Schooner as well as the anthologies Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation and Indivisible: An Anthology of Contemporary South Asian American Poetry. She lives in Los Angeles.
Jennie Frost is a Jewish, Appalachian poet from Maryville, TN. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Anomaly, Kudzu, Glass Mountain, Sink Hollow, Indicia, Mochila, Stirring, and Political Punch, an anthology on the politics of identity from Sundress Publications. She is a three-time winner of the Curtis Owens prize and beginning in January, she will serve as the Writer in Residence at the Sundress Academy for the Arts.