communion begins with right-hand
on leaf-spine, tangled legs pressed
against linoleum. i invoke language
my tongue has forgotten to crave,
gods i do not pray to. my mouth is
pigmented, ground beetroot,
pickled mango, parippu.
i am wound up in cotton pavadas
until thick rings circle my arms,
just like amma’s. she calls them
private school carves definition
from tradition i learn to tuck deep
into lunchbox: why sensual spells
carnal, why our communion spits
heathen in mulaku red. the hand,
they say, breathes uncivilized.
i swallow their words and ask
for a blessing i do not want.
my mother anoints her legs
with coconut oil and her greying
roots with henna. her church
sounds different than mine:
nimble-tongued, long vowels
that hang in the air like perfume.
the clay pot holds diced fish-
bodies, mangled anatomy
bruised in cardinal sea.
at the dinner table,
the children eat with silverware.
heritage is carved from stomach cavity,
sighing organs emptied on porcelain plates.
i call it consecration.
By Miriam Alex
Miriam Alex is an Indian-American writer from New Hampshire. Her writing focuses on identity, family, and sporadic observations. When she isn’t writing, she likes to listen to indie-pop, musicals, and film scores from movies she’s never watched. “Communion” is also forthcoming in the Heritage Review.