Meena Kandasamy

1984 - / Chennai / India


She thought she was dying—ants crawled
under her flaking skin, migraines visited her
at mealtimes, her tender-as-tomato breasts
bruised to touch, her heart forgot its steady beat.
Floundering at forty, she twisted safety pins
into spirals, chewed on pencil-ends, tore down
calendars, became a hurricane about the house.
That wetness, with its lunar reek, never came.

Her monthly drip had disappeared.
Her no-money man was back home by then—
ditched and duped by his dancer mistress.
She forgave that bitch, buried the bad blood
between, gave him her anklet of rubies to sell
and begin some business with. He went.
A week later, she received his body bag
With the executioner's seal on the toe tag.

She stormed the palace, flung her other anklet
at the bloody throne. The royals too saw the red.
The king died of shame, the queen died of shock.
On the edge, Ms. Militancy bayed for more blood.
Vending vengeance, she made a bomb
of her left breast and blew up the blasted city.
Long after that land had turned to ashes,
the rest of her plucked breast bled.

Watching that breast sprout back from its roots,
the lone woman learnt to outgrow her loss.
When the scars no longer showed and
the faraway sea could be smelt between her legs,
she dissolved in a mist of aftersmoke.
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