Poetry / June 2013 (Issue 21)

Surpanakha to Sita

by Anu Elizabeth Roche

They call you goddess
They call me whore.

Your bones were
Gaia's own, your blood
rooted in damp soil, your unwavering love
the fire god's well-kept secret.

Beloved sister, most loathed sister,
I am your best-kept secret.


In every age you have left me behind,
refusing to see
in my eyes my womb my teeth my flesh
your silent screams.

It was a brother who drew a line
between you and the world.
It was a brother who snatched you away
in my name.

It was a brother who made my dishonour
his desire: it was a brother
who broke my body
in your name.


The moment your
fatherless babes
opened their soft mouths,
your breasts wept for fear
that they would speak.
Your breasts wept milk.

I felt the pain, most loathed sister.
I felt it on the stubs where once
my mounds lay free, where once
my wanton desire bloomed.


Beloved sister, most loathed sister,
You are my best-kept secret.

My screams are for you,
to those who killed the woman you were,
to fashion the goddess you've become.
For you who had proved
that no woman could be spared
the slight of a whore.

My screams are for me,
screams of heady relief,
that a man will not
suffocate me in blossoms with one hand,
and ravage my daughters with another.

My screams are for us.
For who we were,
and who we could have been.

Simmering beneath your
enraged pregnant silences,
my cries
my daughters' cries
will be heard.
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ISSN 1999-5032
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