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: https://flic.kr/p/7G6RYE