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ROCHELLE POTKAR

 

 

 

rochelle potkar photoAuthor of The Arithmetic of Breasts and other stories and Four Degrees of Separation, Rochelle Potkar is an alumna of Iowa’s International Writing Program, and Charles Wallace Writer’s fellowship, Stirling. She is the winner of the 2016 Open Road Review contest for her story "The Leaves of the Deodar". Her story "Chit Mahal (The Enclave)" appears in The Best of Asian Short Stories by Kitaab International. Her latest book of prose poems is Paper Asylum (Copper Coin Publishing, May 2018). She is the editor of Goa: A Garland of Poems with Irish transcreations by Gabriel Rosenstock (Onslaught Press). Her poem, "Skirt" has been adapted into a poetry film by Philippa Collie Cousins (UK) for the Visible Poetry Project 2018, USA.

 

 

The girl from Lal Bazar

 

sips divination off cups,

laced in ginger over a saucer of zodiac signs

in dark-dusky mornings after wine sediments in beer mugs

of last evenings,

gorging eyes off popped cardamoms -

brittle bones of promises,

unspooling the wedge of her mother’s sari under umbilical,

swallowing the rain in vertical pills,

as a land-locked dream gathers vapor,

through the thick glass of a cutting-chai

for storms in tea cups.

 

As Chinese lanterns blow, she predicts smaller surfaces

for her future without straining dregs

that stir the night to cinnamon kisses,

like stars smudging daylight.

 

In maps of doubt, enmity, falsehood,

spade-shapes of fortune, mountains of hindrance,

patterns in camels, dogs/ letters in heart, and a ring.

 

She starts at the rim like the white women did (after independence),

holding teacup handles to their spiral bottom,

reverse-imaging white-negative spaces in clumps of flavor,

breaking potencies of freedom - on a stain with satin.

 

The girls were then from Europa, Nippon, for the English soldiers.

Now Madama drinks brew through her yellowing teeth,

stalking the labyrinth of dark snakes in hot water

from a kettle by the pimp,

bittering in tea-garden time – one hour ahead of the zeitgeist present.

 

What’s left is 14 lanes of women of Nepalese and Indian origin

in the old brewing market of flavors,

and she, the daughter of a randi who is into

the beating of drums – even has a new track for an international album.

 

She won’t let ripples in the saucer of lip-smacking liquid,

quivering with delight, decide her near and far futures

in scaffoldings of condoms and collarbone-consciences.

 

 

©2018 Rochelle Potkar

 

 

Author Links

 

Author's website

Paper Asylum (Copper Coin Publishing)

Other work in Silk Routes

 

 

 

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