Shirali Dayaan

Winner of the inaugural Cosmonauts Avenue Poetry Prize 

dayaan summoning magic

“This is how everyone in India is brought up—listening to ghost stories.” –Sushil Sharma,
The Washington Post

 

……..if i mandala the room’s debris into spirals, paisleys—if i paint
the walls with a simple dye : water & ground fruit—if i scatter her ashes

……..into my milk, watch them sift their way down, slowly
through liquid—if the rain comes when i slide my fingers

……..into the thick cocktail—back to signs—if the mud on my hands
looks like a chakra—if the sky strips, the crops bow their bald heads—if her body

……..were granted autopsy, autonomy—if at our core we weren’t all
red, red, red—if i chant her name under a thatched roof—if i burn

……..the roof, see what gets taken with it—if the men ever stop
coming for us—if i tear at a mango with my teeth

……..under thicker shelter—if i ask the flower to grow & only
the sun pretends to listen—if bloom, if altar, if incense—back

……..to burning—if i light the sari on the clothesline—if there are many
saris hung hem to hem—if they pass the flame like an infant : hem to hem—

……..if she didn’t light the match—if the men passed the hut : silent,
darkened from the inside—if the sign for burning weren’t always a flame—

 

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Raena Shirali’s first book, GILT, is forthcoming in 2016 with YesYes Books, and her work has appeared in Crazyhorse, Four Way Review, Indiana Review, Muzzle Magazine,Ninth Letter, The Nervous Breakdown, Pleiades, and many more. Her other honors include a 2016 Pushcart Prize, the 2014 Gulf Coast Poetry Prize, and a “Discovery” / Boston Review Poetry Prize in 2013. She currently lives in Charleston, SC, where she teaches English at College of Charleston.