By Urvashi Bahuguna


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.


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


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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