By Basudhara Roy
That year her water suddenly began to dry.
In the beginning, it passed unnoticed as
water left through whatever vent it found,
sweat, shit, saliva, tears, even blood. This
was followed by a gradual peeling off of
water’s need. She lost thirst, her throat
turning brittle like fish bones in the sun
while her dehydrated tissues warped like
autumn leaves so they rustled whenever
she passed, reminding one of a bag of fall.
In time, her sapless body grew taut and
sprouted scales while her parched voice
splintered into a dozen echoes against
the wall. When she sang, cold desert
winds blew and her cough summoned
crows from lungs. What, however,
altered most in her were the eyes. Their
moisture gutted, they became chips of
stone which, when they bore into you,
desquamated all your pasts so there were
no illusions left to wear. During monsoons,
she stayed indoors, her exfoliated breath
muttering to the rain until it shuddered
and stopped, and though, she never spoke
ill of water, she had no need for it.
Her arid eyebrows arched whenever
she heard a drop and in later years, they
say, all who drooled water grew to fear it.
No one knows how it happened. Some
recount that a temple priest once sucked a
mermaid come out of a river dry, making
of the desiccation a grander feast
till water, like lightning, struck.
In these parts, even today, the women
worship water and men are hydrophobic.
It’s one of those days of the month
I am not well. Caught in my
own waning cycle like the moon,
I warp within myself, my ears
pressed against my navel to hear
the wild rumblings of the sea.
In the karst of my abdomen,
slumbering rivers pandiculate,
rising from sleep, their youthful
growing pains undulating across
flowstones of dark cave floors
till every crimson uterine tale
is told. Enclosing, in a foetal
comma, this thundering world,
my mind increasingly turns to
Venus, that one female planet in
a masculine universe, stormy,
volcanic, her spirit homed in
unrest. I think of the way she
turns clockwise, playing
truant to time, her one day of
love longer than memory’s
year as fiercely embracing her
own light, she scorns moons.
Her orbit, the perfect circle
hugging her motion, her axis
refusing to lean upon none
but her untamed turbulence,
she calls out to me in my
upheaval. Doubled over the
pain and joy of being myself,
I realize I am already Venusian.
Basudhara Roy is Assistant Professor of English at Karim City College, Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, India. As a poet and reviewer, her work has been featured/upcoming in anthologies and magazines like The Helter Skelter Anthology of New Writing in English, The Aleph Review, The Poetry Society of India, Mad in Asia Pacific, Teesta, Borderless, Muse India, Shabdadguchha, Cerebration, Rupkatha, Triveni, and Setu, among others. She has authored two books, Migrations of Hope (Criticism; New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers, 2019) and Moon in My Teacup (Poetry; Kolkata: Writer’s Workshop, 2019). Her second poetry collection, Stitching a Home, is forthcoming in 2021.
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