Meena Kandasamy

1984 - / Chennai / India

Dead Woman Walking

i am a dead woman walking asylum corridors,
with faltering step, with felted, flying hair,
with hollowed cheeks that offset bulging eyes,
with welts on my wrists, with creasing skin,
with seizures of speech and song, with a single story
between my sobbing, pendulous breasts.

once i was a wife: beautiful,
married to a merchant: shifty-eyed.
living the life, until he was lost in listless doubt—
of how, what i gave him was more delicious
than whatever, whatever had been given to me.
his mathematics could never explain
the magic of my multiplying love—this miracle—
like materializing mangoes out of thin air,
like dishing out what was never there.

this discrepancy drove him away:
a new job in another city.
he hitched himself to a fresh and formless wife.
of course, as all women do, i found out.

i wept in vain, i wailed, i walked on my head, i went to god.

i sang in praise of dancing dervishes, i made music
for this world to devour on some dejected day.
i shed my beauty, i sacrificed my six senses.
some called me mad, some called me mother
but all of them led me here,
to this land of the living-dead.
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