Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods

Tishani Doshi

for Monika

Girls are coming out of the woods,
wrapped in cloaks and hoods,
carrying iron bars and candles
and a multitude of scars, collected
on acres of premature grass and city
buses, in temples and bars. Girls
are coming out of the woods
with panties tied around their lips,
making such a noise, it’s impossible
to hear. Is the world speaking too?
Is it really asking, What does it mean
to give someone a proper resting? Girls are
coming out of the woods, lifting
their broken legs high, leaking secrets
from unfastened thighs, all the lies
whispered by strangers and swimming
coaches, and uncles, especially uncles,
who said spreading would be light
and easy, who put bullets in their chests
and fed their pretty faces to fire,
who sucked the mud clean        off their ribs, and decorated
their coffins with briar. Girls are coming
out of the woods, clearing the ground
to scatter their stories. Even those girls
found naked in ditches and wells,
those forgotten in neglected attics,
and buried in river beds like sediments
from a different century. They’ve crawled
their way out from behind curtains
of childhood, the silver-pink weight
of their bodies pushing against water,
against the sad, feathered tarnish
of remembrance. Girls are coming out
of the woods the way birds arrive
at morning windows—pecking
and humming, until all you can hear
is the smash of their miniscule hearts
against glass, the bright desperation
of sound—bashing, disappearing.
Girls are coming out of the woods.
They’re coming. They’re coming.

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Tishani  Doshi

Tishani Doshi publishes novels, essays, and poetry. She has worked as a dancer with the Chandralekha troupe for fifteen years. She lives on a beach in Tamil Nadu.
tishanidoshi.com

In her third collection of poetry, Tishani Doshi addresses violence against women by giving abused and silenced bodies a chance to speak at last. Of and for the women that live on, she writes with bold reverence for that which thrives despite the odds―female desire, the aging body, the power of refusal. Doshi reminds us that poetry, at its root, is song―in praise and lament, hopeful and ebbing―calling out for truth and redemption.

“Tishani Doshi… offer[s] an eloquent dissection of the body―its attributes, metaphors, deficiencies and contradictions―all delivered in chromatic, richly textured lines, in which the assured manipulation of rhythm and internal rhyme produces poems of remarkable balance and grace.”
The Guardian

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