Sita in Exile
Before the forest, giving in was easy:
my hands for your prayers, my skin
for your mouth. But once your doubt
grew taut, it was all fire: my ruin begun
in dirt and rubble, fourteen years
of leering branches, of stars plotting
against me. Now, I sleep alone in the sweat
of the afternoon, waken to an evening
of peeled purple. I bless all that is seen
and unseen with river water and bucket:
under the rough rope of my hair,
in the quiet between arms and thighs.
Gaunt as a paper fan, I wander the walled
garden in naked feet, pull my melancholy
close, a numb shawl. I beckon the tiger
to come and lick my ankles free of ash.
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.