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Volume 8

Forbidden - July 2011


Purvi Shah

Written by
Purvi Shah

Purvi Shah’s book of poems, *Terrain Tracks* (New Rivers Press, 2006), which explores migration as potential and loss, won the Many Voices Project prize and was nominated for the Asian American Writers’ Workshop Members’ Choice Award in 2007. Shah, winner of the inaugural SONY South Asian Social Services Award in 2008, led a community-based anti-domestic violence organization for nearly eight years and is now consulting on the issue of violence against women, supporting the development of Kundiman (an Asian American poets organization), teaching literature at Hunter College, and working toward a second collection of poetry.


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Desire, Iterated/Journeys of Iteration, Desired


The pomegranate did not want to be eaten. She sought to be held. Perhaps to be coddled. Certainly, stroked. Perhaps, a slight suck, syrup spilling. She says, women these days, giving up seed whole, every curve splayed, awaiting ransack, trail of ripe stain on every lip and fingertip, trail of stain neither tears nor prayer can reverse.


You mistook peacock feather for flame. Smoke subsides: you left with an eye of brown crumpled, tendrils of green/blue waiting to curl near breeze, a bent spine seeking flourish of air or siphoned sound. You say, I wanted only the most concentrated part of the rainbow, light refracted into hovering wing, every arc of you in that far line of dusk touching horizon. You say, if this desire is smoke, I will still inhale.


Lifting lid of a red teapot, I smart. Steam too can burn even when flame has passed. Even when flame has passed, a burn marked. Even when scored, a thirst.


After outpouring, the well aches. The sun has baked one too many hearts. Oasis allures; journey dissuades. In this maelstrom, you reach for the red pail: it has always held what world can be encircled, what sweet certainty can be drunk.


You crave to cup chin. I seek to encircle chalice. Do not be afraid: one’s hand alone cannot hold forever. Even chalice needs a table upon which to rest. The table may be plain or it may be the mahogany of muddy rivers or the cherry of new desires. You say, in your chin there is no tangent that cannot be expressed. I say, this chalice too bears such powers of sorrow and surprise.


In the mirror, a bruise under arm. Some hurts are hard to pinpoint, some evoked only through glass. So too with desires: does the night jasmine propel the moon to shine? Or is moonshine a perennial, disappearing sweetness in each & every full moment, this camera of a heart, an always absent, this absence always.


Your desire has turned to smoke – a wisp of laden air & threads unraveling, residue of smoldered fire. You hear others chatter and it is a foreign language: scales of a piano, birds beckoning spring, or your singed heart calling for rains.


Speak gingerly: the world is listening. Should you bare your heart again and again, the sun too may turn away in orange-red blush. Some desires are best stolen, released one by one as the spores of shaking dandelion into the freedom of unseen, albeit dynamic, air.



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