Nude Body of Gutters

by Prema Bangera

You lose her. In the vortex of guttered water,

her tangled hair entwines. Tornado-like.

Her body spinning boisterously at its core.

Her name: Izra—the wooden doll with black pebbled eyes.


Your body was five. Your mind was forty-two. Papa's hands were covered

in wire. Your arms, cable-scraped. Ma said: You are an abortion—living. She was

the sequins of tattered saris. You hid under odnis[1], listening to Sanskrit chants,

clutching Naana's Izra, like the single weed inside your Ma's marigold gardens.

Naana[2] said, Izra has the answers.


Break wood. Break light. Break time. On flesh, tree-lines are drawn

out of prayers. Izra: her nude curves sprawl in gutters. She is breathing,

pivoting with the tides, pirouetting into the ocean. Her body is the hum

of a closed room, giving birth to birds made of leaves.


Papa said: Your name is a temple-prayer. Ma wanted to bathe you in lotus petals.

You only believed in the apparitions of the stars. Your face: ruptured

hallelujahs of the waifish monks.


You will lie in a field of perennial-voices. You will meet Izra in Shanghai,

under bridges of pillars laced in Mandarin. You will smell the opium,

once exchanged for weapons. Your body will turn into ashed-wood.

Your mind, still breathing. You will never be alone.

[1] A shawl that is part of an Indian female's outfit.

[2] Maternal grandfather in Hindi