an on-line poetry magazine
for the 21st century

WINTER 2021-22

 

Pramila Venkatesewaran

HOW TO WEAR COTTON AND NOT NOTICE THE WOUNDS? 

Stalks dance in the wind         holding snow puffs

belying blood              sunlight

searing bent backs       shadows on the pages

of history.

The thorns, the thorns,

the tearing, striking, stripping.

Gandhi wove cotton to brand patriotism

and burned synthetics like colonialism.

Was he blind to innocent black blood coloring

Mississippi red?

White bolts like corpses lined factory walls

a purity march             from Lancaster to Lowell

after leaving Bombay and Atlanta.

Now from Bangladesh to strip malls

ghosts roam                 behind each weave and cut.

The thorns, the thorns,

the tearing, striking, stripping.

You love the hug of fabric                  the seductive

wrap of sheets             the go-to for bandages

and sanitary pads.

The thorns, the thorns

stubbornly prick fine fingers in new markets.

How to wear cotton and not notice the wounds?

Pramila Venkateswaran, poet laureate of Suffolk County, Long Island (2013-15) and co-director of Matwaala: South Asian Diaspora Poetry Festival, is the author of many poetry volumes, the most recent being The Singer of Alleppey (Shanti Arts, 2018). She has performed her poetry internationally, including at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival and the Festival Internacional De Poesia De Granada. An award winning poet, she teaches English and Women’s Studies at Nassau Community College, New York. She is a founding member of Women Included, a transnational feminist association.