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Reasons

By Urvashi Bahuguna

Poem

My mother had a wing that could not be
taken. A fox lived
at the backyard border.
The rain wouldn’t stop, wouldn’t
paddle back to the neighbour’s postal box.
I spent so much time looking at the snow, I
saw something beyond the cold.
My grandfather helped my grandmother’s
birds escape.
My mother had one good
wing and one made of sadness.
I have lived in three continents and
an island in between.
It was a hobby for a lonely
girl with interesting habits.
My mother has this wing and then another
and I pulled them tight around me.
I went to tent revivals in Turtle Mountain.
The Khasi people have always told stories.
I write on the body.
I have a home but I have been
trying to leave all my life.
I want to show
things are never simple.
There was a fox,
no, a shadow on the northern wall when
I went to bed.
My people have always told their own stories.
I wanted to write like a cicada sings.
My mother sat on one side of the table by herself,
leaving seats empty
for people unseen, her wings around them.
A boy died in a bullfight I saw.
It was one more way to tend a garden.
My mother has one wing in this city
softening tapioca in a pan, the other
in a steel trunk listening to
the life she left behind.

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Inspired by answers to the question “What drew you to writing?” in interviews and conversations.

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URVASHI BAHUGUNA's poems have been published or are forthcoming in Barely South Review, Kitaab, Jaggery Lit, The Four Quarters Magazine and elsewhere. She currently lives and works in India.

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