Poetry by Akanksha Patra
My frail mother
cries into a fishbowl
then, drinks it down in a gulp.
She sews a zip onto her lip
and with a beta baadi,
beats her pain to a pulp.
She licks her wounds that bleed
into a riverbed,
on which she lies, later and floats off to sleep.
She pours a pint of her abuse into a bowl
of cheap china and chugs it,
“poison only tastes like poison,
until you’ve swallowed it.”
My starving mother
bites onto the hems of
the dancing shoes that her perpetrator bought her.
She nibbles onto the silver latch outside
her kitchen door and,
buries patchworked dreams in her stomach, in a pot.
She gawks at crawling caterpillars
on yellow chrysanthemums in the yard,
and chews on barrels full of rotting diamonds,
like buckets of caramel popcorn at the movies.
She tells me, “eat up, daughter, eat up,
eat up before it spreads,
for poison only tastes like itself,
until it has been fed.”
My wrathful mother
cooks up a broth one morning,
in a cauldron big enough that fits,
a squid, a snake, a sloth;
his head, his hands, his feet,
his eyes, his lies, his wits.
She boils the bisque for days on end;
on Wednesday, she drinks it down in a gulp.
“Everything will now taste sweet,” she says,
“nothing shall ever be bitter, my daughter,
for all the poison that there was and will be,
I will swallow,
I will slaughter.
glossary: beta baadi (in Odia) is a beating stick used by pandits in a temple and is considered holy as it drives away evil spirits.
Akanksha (she/her) is a 21-year-old Master’s student of Clinical Psychology, who wants to save the world. She's often found hiding behind a giant heap of books, reading poetry late into the night and writing out detailed stories off minor incidents that mean nothing, really. She can speak 6 languages. She is a lover of skies, chaser of butterflies and the smallest person in a room, always. Her Instagram is @annesextonstan.