Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2017  Vol. 16 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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daayan, feet facing forward

peppers & lemon rinds sway in doorways
though i was bred just over their thresholds
& my hair isn’t kept in a braid. kids hunch

behind the bins, stare as i walk by. i know
what they’re thinking : witch, man-eater, lonely
hag. my husband in ashes, my home next

to burn. all this doubling. it’s no wonder
the villagers think of signs, lust after my land
as though it’s anybody’s to take. as though

when they slit the last girl’s throat in the woods,
i simply sat by, not feeling a thing, not flinching
awake every night thereafter—even now. let me

dispel each rumor, make each ember fade
to floating ash : look : i move with something
akin to grace, no backward-facing feet, no taste

for flesh. what would i want with these men
anyway? there’s too much else out here
to love : the air smells bright, & shells of pepper

twirl with abandon. they can’t tell me i’m not
beautiful, smiling up at the deep maroon
skins—the ones meant to ward me off. already

they’re saying it : she’s killed her own kind. bhaiyas,
am i not your own making, your own undoing?
the breeze warms. my sky smells alive. i’m ready.  

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