My Mother’s Ghost

— Shreya Khullar

My mother told me stories of looking at the moon / back when her country was her own / and she knew nothing of snow / or nations nurtured by luck / and rainclouds / bursting with blankets of white / she saw it as a good omen / the earth washing itself / scrubbing its sin / it was new movement / a migration / a puberty / she wanted to use this bloom / as evolution / my new blood / to engineer an emergence / my mother says my body is a taboo / and in her language / every letter is an implication / every woman the opposite of auspicious / and inherently unreliable / as a daughter / I see street market melons / as breasts / and blood as something built / like a nation / because I am not ripe / but ripening / my mother’s old city / was a kingdom / ravaged by sirens / by mythical women / and the façade of their beauty / the blizzard of women she saw / is seeing / tore up this temple / constructed my creation / in her country every problem has a root / that can be traced back / though bloodlines / the one who birthed the color of my skin / the color of shit / my mother says / this is why they name hurricanes / after women / and other natural disasters / she says back home / they eat women alive / use cannibalism as clemency / women learned to calculate violence / predict its probability / when I ask why / she threatens to send me back / to discover for myself / how we are inherently polluted / to discover myself / her body that broke / is breaking / is mine / I inherited / a worn out kingdom / that is used / and therefore useless / where the rain singes my skin / the sky spits its pity on me / but here / they have snow / water that melts before it can rot / rain that has ripened / sweetens my stomach / the milk of my mother’s revelation / my mother’s new country / has no moon / so I never learned / what to look towards / she says / there is always something / to leave behind / like the nation she fled / is fleeing


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