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|Publisher:||Copper Canyon Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.30(d)|
About the Author
Tishani Doshi was born in Madras, India. She is an award-winning poet, journalist, essayist, and novelist, whose work has been translated into five languages. Doshi is also a professional dancer with the Chandralekha Troupe. She lives in Tamil Nadu, India, with her husband and three dogs.
Read an Excerpt
Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods
Girls are coming out of the woods,
wrapped in cloaks and hoods,
carrying iron bars and candles
and a multitude of scars, collected
• n acres of premature grass and city
buses, in temples and bars. Girls
are coming out of the woods
with panties tied around their lips,
making such a noise, it’s impossible
to hear. Is the world speaking too?
Is it really asking, What does it mean
to give someone a proper resting? Girls are
coming out of the woods, lifting
their broken legs high, leaking secrets
from unfastened thighs, all the lies
whispered by strangers and swimming
coaches, and uncles, especially uncles,
who said spreading would be light
and easy, who put bullets in their chests
and fed their pretty faces to fire,
who sucked the mud clean
• ff their ribs, and decorated
their coffins with briar. Girls are coming
• ut of the woods, clearing the ground
to scatter their stories. Even those girls
found naked in ditches and wells,
those forgotten in neglected attics,
and buried in river beds like sediments
from a different century. They’ve crawled
their way out from behind curtains
• f childhood, the silver-pink weight
• f their bodies pushing against water,
against the sad, feathered tarnish
• f remembrance. Girls are coming out
• f the woods the way birds arrive
at morning windowspecking
and humming, until all you can hear
is the smash of their miniscule hearts
against glass, the bright desperation
• f soundbashing, disappearing.
Girls are coming out of the woods.
They’re coming. They’re coming.
Ode to Patrick Swayze
At fourteen I wanted to devour you,
the twang, the strut, the perfect proletarian
butt in the black pants of you. I wanted a man
like you to sashay into town and teach me
how to be an aeroplane in water. I didn’t want
to be a baby. I wanted to be your baby.
I wanted revenge. I wanted to sue my breasts
for not living up to potential. I wanted Jennifer Grey
to meet with an unfortunate end and not have a love affair
with a ghost. At fourteen, I believed you’d given birth
to the word preternatural, and when Mother came
home one day, waving her walking shoe, saying,
I lost my soul in the Theosophical Society,
I wanted to dance as recklessly as the underside
• f that shoe. I wanted to be a pebble in the soft
heel of you. To horse-whisper and live on a ranch
in Texas and love my blonde wife forever and have
creases around my eyes and experience at least one
goddamn summer where I could be like the wind
sexy and untrammelled and dirty. And it was only
after I found my own Johnny (and got rid of him),
• nly yesterday, when I rescued a northern shoveler
from crows on the beach, his broken wing
squished against the crockery of my ribs,
• nly after setting him down at the edge
• f a canal, where he sank in to the long patient
task of dying, that I realized what I’d wanted
most was to be held by someone determined
to save me, someone against whom I could press
my unflourishing chest, who’d offer me
not just the time of my life, but who’d tear
• ut reams of his yellowing pancreas,
and say, Here, baby, eat.
I agree to turn my skin inside out,
to reinvent every lost word, to burnish,
to steal, to do what I must
in order to singe your lungs.
I will forgo happiness,
stab myself repeatedly,
and lower my head into countless ovens.
I will fade backwards into the future
and tell you what I see.
If it is bleak, I will lie
so that you may live
seized with wonder.
If it is miraculous, I will
send messages in your dreams,
and they will flicker
as a silvered cottage in the woods,
choked with vines of moonflower.
Don’t kill me, Reader.
This neck has been working for years
to harden itself against the axe.
This body, meagre as it is,
has lost so many limbs to wars, so many
eyes and hearts to romance. But love me,
and I will follow you everywhere
to the dusty corners of childhood,
to every downfall and resurrection.
Till your skin becomes my skin.
Let us be twins, our blood
thumping after each other
like thunder and lightning.
And when you put your soft head
down to rest, dear Reader,
I promise to always be there,
humming in the dungeons
• f your auditory canals
an immortal mosquito,
hastening you towards fury,
There must be a word for a person
who longs to run into the eye
• f a storm, a word for every tree
that lies slaughtered on the streets
after a cyclone. A word like lachrymose
• r pulmonary. A word for they have left
you alone to face your doom. In Aleppo.
In Aleppo. I cannot speak of Aleppo.
Only that it is the opposite of breath.
There must be a word for the walk
home at night. Your belongings in two bags,
feet in mud. For a family thinking they will return.
Maybe the house still stands. Maybe the sea.
The dead leave no clues about what lies beyond.
We call it eternal. We call it now.
Summer in Madras
Everyone in the house is dying.
Mother in an air-conditioned room
cannot hear as rivers break their dams
against her nerves. Father stalks verandas,
• ffering pieces of his skin to the rows of lurid
gulmohars. Husband tries to still the advancing
armies of the past by stuffing his ears with desiccated
mango husks. And brother? Brother is most lackadaisical of all.
He opens the door. Takes death’s umbrella. Taps it this way and that. Sings.
Table of Contents
Summer in Madras 7
Rain at Three 8
A Fable for the 21st Century 9
What the Sea Brought In 11
How to be Happy in 101 Days 13
Fear Management 16
Everyone Loves a Dead Girl 18
Monsoon Poem 20
Ode to Patrick Swayze 23
To My First White Hairs 28
Considering Motherhood While Falling Off a Ladder in Rome 32
Love in the Time of Autolysis 34
Jungian Postcard 36
Girls are Coming Out of the Woods 38
Strong Men, Riding Horses 40
Disco Biscuits 42
Honesty Hotel for Gents 44
My Grandmother Never Ate a Potato in Her Life 46
Your Body Language Is Not Indian! or Where I Am Snubbed at a Cocktail Party by a Bharatnatyam Dancer 49
Saturday on the Scores 52
The Women of the Shin Yang Park Sauna, Gwangju 54
Encounters with a Swedish Burglar 57
Pig-Killing in Viet Hai 58
Calcutta Canzone 61
Understanding My Fate in a Mexican Museum 64
Dinner Conversations 66
The Leather of Love 68
O Great Beauties! 73
Clumps of Happiness 76
Meeting Elizabeth Bishop in Madras 77
Grandmothers Abroad 80
Poem for a Dead Dog 82
Find the Poets 84
The Day Night Died 87
Coastal Life 89
The View from Inside My Coffin 91
Portrait of the Poet as a Reclining God 94
When I Was Still a Poet 97
About the Author 99