name me a stranger wrapped in melting dark skin,
heat sinking saccharine into my spine, glass-blown
into sugar water collapsed against my vertebrae.
my hands are martyred for my mouth left lackluster,
this heritable familiarity given way to foreign touch,
and i offer my tangibilities, seawater traced into all
my wounds, fingertips washed over with spindrift.
here – paatti pins jasmines into hair to watch them
drip white down my falsened throat, and here – my
hollowed bones pull into flesh, into unknowing.
my mouth heavy around motherland syllables, and
my teeth clinging to weight. a city holds handprint
to throat, still, in thoughtless suffocations.
a bindi smeared on my forehead, marble pressed
beneath my feet, a rung bell trembling through air,
and i ask teach me this name of my gods, letters
switchbladed against the soft left of my cheeks.
i am reaching. i am trying, but i taste copper, and
my tongue severed becomes a bleeding synonym for
something stood unattainable, my fingers held still.
this loam is rich under palms, fed and watered of
my skinned childhood bleeding, less than ancestral.
belonging traces patterns into my hipbones to string
me into longing, a language gentling into the shape
of my mouth with its brand as unwieldy, whitening.
and say – these consonants, an invasion and a blessing,
crawling through the gaps left in my bleached skull.
say – these vowels, betrayal swallowed halfway kind.
this soil clutches to my fingerprints and split aches,
spilt into the space of my bisected, parted cranium.
By Kavi Kshiraj
Kavi Kshiraj is a queer, Indo-American poet found in New Jersey. He spends time on hobbies such as writing, Greek mythology, and his various identity crises.