The Violence in Our Bones

The Violence in Our Bones

by Sneha Subramanian Kanta

after Amrita Pritam

It is strange how violence

makes a home out of itself

in our bones, passed from

grandmother to granddaughter

as a legacy, hidden in our dupattas,

as silence while pickling mangoes.

Summer sky, cotton candy clouds

the koi circumnavigate the temple pond

in search for peace & glide over

to the surface of water.

Unfair land disallows them entry

often, death is the price for migration.

I know the word for violence in

four languages: Hindi, Urdu, Sindhi, Tamil

but it remains an inaccessible tongue.

On vacant nights while peeling off

coconut husks or sticking cow-dung

over side-walls in the village hut,

I hear the mountains

call to mingle with their habitat,

to be unrestrained & solitary.

a bloodless moon is blanched every amavasya.

Don’t ask me to tip henna on my

cuticles, don’t bring me to a strange

city after I garland you because

it doesn’t mean I make a god out of you.

I have made an exile of my body

in the past, in the transcendence of nights.

My grandmother told me how she saw

thousands of people line by gigantic ships

to flee land. Nobody puts their young

on a voyage in the sea for fear of shipwreck

but the brave or the fearful. Her chest has grown

like a banyan tree since, she said, as I looked

at her willowy frame. Mogras and roses adorn

her hair—I inhale their aromas at dawn.

Sneha Subramanian Kanta is a GREAT scholarship awardee, and has earned a second postgraduate degree in literature from England. She is the founding editor of Parentheses Journal and author of Synecdoche (The Poetry Annals) and Prosopopoeia (Ghost City Press).

Image by Dharmesh Patel, found on Flickr:

#poetry #snehasubramaniankanta #violence

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