elegy for a child bride
three pre-dawn bathers see her first on the ghat
arms stretched out towards the river, eyes closed, a single
gold bangle sheened red on her left arm.
she could be sleeping; but she
in the days to come, she wanders in many forms many shapes
into my night dreams. but always, her eyes are wide, crimson-clinging-lashes
there is nothing in them – no tenderness, no abhorrence
and no pain.
my mother tells me horror stories of girls younger than i
who bathe in gasoline then swallow fire. they burn their histories from their bodies
and carry their unshed nightmares into the afterlife.
ten houses down the road, a young man will leave
come tomorrow morning, just to be sure.
the cops think she took a knife to herself, and no one
disagrees. i think tomorrow a girl whose name i cannot know
will give herself to the sea. maybe the same evening
another will bleed out over her mother-in-law’s floor
and give bitter thanks for it.
in the evening the temple doors part and someone
kills a goat on the steps; blood on water on stone, it feels
much the same.
they carry her ashes to the ganga, the river, fractious,
already brimming with ghosts of girls who
died fast and young like flies. their mothers lament
by the river, not just for their daughters, but for
all the ghosts to come.
By Lakshmi Mitra
Previously published in cahoodaloodaling’s Trigger Warning issue.
Lakshmi Mitra is a 19 year old college student living in Kolkata who occasionally frustrates herself into a bout of writing. When not doing so, she can be found reading, studying, craving sleep, and complaining. She is mostly polite, a lousy conversationalist, and doesn’t like sudden movements. Therefore, it comes as a great surprise to her that her cats still don’t like her. She blogs at thiswinterheart.tumblr.com