daayan at gold streak river

Raena Shirali

    if at dusk the river’s peach trembles into soot—if hip-thick in mist i tracepetals on waves—if the ripple slurs on, past its outer limit—if the fact     of my finger makes the sky gild—if from a distance i look like a ghost,it’s because i’m out here with my ghosts—if the men yell bongas, suspect our flush     places wax carnal—if plumes off the shoreline mean that’s our earth,killing again—& we know about killing, about twine binding ankles     to a thin branch—if my ghosts tell me how they lived—morningsizzling dew off the shrubs, the smallness of a tea leaf in a hand, the power     to crush or fray a living thing : fiber by fiber—if i say to one it’s gettingdark & she turns her head toward me, backlit by gold streak, says but you     are the matron of water, her eyes pepper-swollen, limbs thickwith sinking—if the castor plant grazed her skin nightly—if we float—     if we float—if we float & soak the lentils & follow the field’s rows& if we came here as brides & they threw us a feast, said welcome—sisters,     i say, here we are at the end of the earth—if the sky immolates—magenta rimming the day as it dies—if it looks hopeless—if it is     hopeless—on the shore men jeer & hurl branches—if we don’t turnback—if we wade out together, cursed women, & find mountains instead—

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Raena Shirali is the author of GILT (YesYes Books, 2017). A Pushcart Prize recipient, Shirali’s honors include a Philip Roth Residency at Bucknell University’s Stadler Center for Poetry, a Gulf Coast Poetry Prize, a Cosmonauts Avenue Poetry Prize, & a “Discovery”/ Boston Review Poetry Prize. Born in Houston, Texas, & raised in Charleston, South Carolina, the Indian American poet earned her MFA from The Ohio State University. She currently lives in Philadelphia, where she serves as Poetry Editor for Muzzle Magazine, and is on the editorial team for Vinyl.

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Volume 11, Number 2

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