THEY SAY THE (MUSLIM) BAN IS TEMPORARY

But I’ve decorated my home, she says
And what if they make us leave?
I know it sounds silly, but each painting
I’ve chosen with such care
See this one? It’s of a castle
from a street artist in Salzburg
and my green leather couch, made in Italy
has the shape of my bottom on the leftmost cushion
and my kilim rug from Turkey,
after we bargained for one hour
the rug seller gave me a free nazar
evil eye amulet and said, ‘We all need it!’
Oh, we’re fucked! But this is the 21st century?
And what of my books in crooked piles?
Would they burn them? There are only a few
that would be considered blasphemous

 

 

 

 

FAMILY PORTRAIT, 1978

The wedding is over and white sheets have been stained
Chachi tells us ‘don’t look ‘as she fastens her bra, but we peek
through splayed fingers at her newly touched breasts
she is nervous about stepping out of the room,
her saree pleats straight, hair’s middle parting
glowing sindoor red, fixing a small bindi on her forehead
she asks, ‘how do I look?’ She is beautiful and I want
to swing from the coil of her thick black braid

This will be the last photograph of us together
before sugar eats up his liver, he who all call Pitaji
rooftop laundry making way for an open-air studio
with Pitaji in the middle, square spectacles framing his eyes
Maji next to him with her jet black dyed wavy hair
the single sons, wiry and thin, their bell bottoms sweeping the ground
and the married sons, smiling, arms wrapped around
their brides, as sarees cover their heads and they offer weak smiles
the single daughter in her stylish salwar kameez wondering
if she’ll be next, and the grandchildren ignoring the camera
for there are better things to do, my pleated party frock
fluffing up like a tent, as I spin in December sun, weddings are
such fun, I think, twirling as the photographer yells,
Say Cheese!

__________________________________________________________

Shikha Malaviya is an Indo-American poet & writer. Her book, Geography of Tongues, was published in December 2013 and featured in several literary festivals. Shikha is a co-founder of The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective, a literary press dedicated to new poetic voices from India & the Indian Diaspora. Her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and featured in Prairie Schooner, Drunken Boat, Water~Stone Review & other fine journals. Shikha was a featured TEDx speaker in GolfLinks, Bangalore, in 2013, where she gave a talk on poetry. She has been a two-time mentor for AWP’s Writer to Writer Mentorship Program & was selected as Poet Laureate of San Ramon, CA, 2016. She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit here at www.shikhamalaviya.com

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