Sunday, 15 August 2021

Janina Shivdasani, Poetry 2021 Shortlist

Unclaimed*

The community recedes, yet it has
No place for me because the letters after
my first name didn’t grow in their god’s
Garden and half the blood that I now carry

as a fault didn’t come to me fluent in their
language. I look like them, yes, but at the
threshold of their faith’s residence I am but a
stray dog and on documents I fill I don’t check

their box, they won’t let me. I am told that my
prayers sing to vacant chairs, poured into teacups
no one will drink from, carried by birds that get
lost at sea. Their sky will not weep forgiveness

upon me, their sun does not keep me aflame.
And when I am oak riddled to the ash they
Sprinkle on their children as armour, they will
Not send me off as one of their own

The community would rather wane to
a Memory than claim me because it was
My mother’s breath that tried to make the
Willow bend when it would bow only for
A man, just like they all do

*According to Zoroastrian tradition, it is enforced that if a woman marries outside the community her children will not be recognized as Zoroastrians, whereas if a man does so, his children are still considered as such.

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