blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1



She Falls Asleep in Strange Places

When Sita’s father calls he does not speak
of the car left running in the cul-de-sac, sirens,

a spill of potatoes and jackfruit on pavement.
He says only She falls asleep in strange places.

The front door is reluctant to Sita’s touch,
their foyer sour with old newspapers. Where

are the slippers? Where is her mother singing?
Leaving the hospital her mother sleeps

on the ride back, sleeps for the next two days.
Sita oils her mother’s hair, braids it scalp-tight.

She sings the songs of afterschool, recalls
her mother bending down to unlace her shoes;

a whiff of cardamom; Disney Channel until six,
so often that same cartoon—she vacuums and again

waltzes with owls. Soprano, soon-to-be-
princessed. For a year, her name was Aurora.

She asks her dad if he remembers. She asks him
to practice IVs on an orange. On the third day,

her mother wakes. Her mother calls her
Dalit. Her mother says Stop using good linen

on the dead. Her mother closes her eyes.
Her mother is just soft murmur and curl.

Sita finishes fluffing the pillow. That night
she dreams not of the Beauty but the sorceress,

green-skinned, unable to accept the party
has gone on without her. Who wouldn’t be tempted?

This will only hurt a bit, the witch had promised.
Such a fast wheel. Such a pretty spindle. 

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