Stirring rice complementing
Ivory teeth, Achamma
Is a witness
Of firewood,
Primitive equipment.
Verdant shrubbery
Crackles in her mouth,
Peeling spikes
Spitting a lump seed.

Flesh of translucence,
Is a palpable tickle
On memory
So primordial that
Recollection pools
Into photographs, kissed with
Fungus. Mouths of
Two sisters hovering in tautness
Weaved in a festering valley
Of decorum,
Her grandfather’s reprimanding cane,
Of hems collecting liberation
In the charged air above.

Where were her
Kohl smeared
Underneath lids,
Hollering at roosters,
Hair plaited
By her Amma’s nimble hands

Snuffed by the
Oblivion of night.
Girlhood dancing
In mirrors stained,
Bijou pearls.
A glimpse
Of her groom’s eyes, darting away as
She steps into the ceremonial circle, and fire
Hisses as the priest pours oil.

Before spoons fit
Fingers weary of flour
And saris draped
Shriveled green for middle age
Did she pinch pages
Seething of London, “darling!”!, trains?
Did technicolor serials
Filter into slang?
In trunks, broken-but-working
English punctured in a heart
Destined for
Achachan’s garland.

*Achamma = grandmother
*Amma = mother
*Achachan = grandfather

About the Author

Malvika Manoj is a first-year Business major at the University of Texas at Austin, pursuing a certificate in Core Texts and Ideas. She likes writing poems that explore the nuances of human behavior and making guacamole with her dad. Her work was published in the Rare Byrd Literary Review, National Poetry Quarterly, Lilun Magazine and a self-published anthology called Sonder. She was recognized as a 2018/2019 National Winner for American High School Poets by the Live Poets Society of New Jersey and was a finalist in the New York Times Found Poetry Contest.