THREE POEMS by Purvi Shah

MIRA LONGS TO BE MORE THAN A BRIDE The sound of your footsteps is waterfall. Why not thrust       off these bangles then?


The sound of your footsteps

is waterfall. Why not thrust
             off these bangles then? You


                                                          are already music & in your hands, I am

wordless sound in your worldless sound. Note this

concert of veils lifting & fires
                 crossing. A palanquin came
                                 to witness how my head adorned
                                                by marigold can bow, can summon

                                                                     deep golden fetters of dawn – how night consorts

with day to disappear, how we alone burn for the fire
of being: we two will know what pulse

clinks our breaths as twins
               in a mother’s pouch, both their own
                                                                                             & not own
                                                                                                           – our original
                                                                           unchambered heart.

I shall wear the moon

or your heartbeat
around my wrist.



Sorrow: may you be known
            by your other names – black

orchid, a scar burst, a thorn
             at your jaw, the underbelly
                                        of true joy. 

Sorrow: were you to have a season, should you be
              a head lodged against a doe-like shoulder & my bountiful

raven hair? Sorrow: may you fall
              between autumn & winter or extreme

beauty & extreme quiet or
              extreme bliss & extreme plenty, between
                             a burnt rose & its thorns –

or ideally between Sunday & Sunday,                       a day of day deleted. After raptures,

beloved-talk, a smile
              in early light, how easy a heart betrays, 

how each & every nerve
              re-speaks splendors – lost. So we turn 

back to the same dilemma,                              joy more slippery 

in the hand & somehow
                        & in each
                                      season              sorrow standing

for your shoulder – perched

to draw blood.



warmed by the light of God or maybe her dark mother
fed her coals for breakfast in youth, hoping
to kindle the child’s black meat into diamond.

Wayfarers scout the country to enclose
her hands, these oracles of heat. She sears

                                 migrants with warm shelter. She simmers
                                                 their cold burn with hope, imparts companions.

                                  Her hands are a furnace, he says & shies
                                                                                                                   away. He wants to lead

her to the coldest chamber in his American home,

             envelop her sun-spackled wrists from the homeland
                           in his brown palms. He seeks
                                        to teach his nerves how warmth is spread.

When he clasps her hands, he too imagines

he is planted on stone                 floors, underneath a flat
roof, sun puncturing                                  sizzle after                   monsoon rains.

His palms are soft, uncarved,                              she discerns. It is not easy being
a holder of heat, a foreigner                to fevered belonging.

She curtains her eyes, trained                               to hide the smoldering.




Issue 4 Contents                                        NEXT: The End of Labor by Al Maginnes


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About Purvi Shah

Purvi Shah
Purvi Shah seeks to inspire change through her work as a non-profit consultant, anti-violence advocate, and writer. Winner of the inaugural SONY South Asian Excellence Award for Social Service for her work fighting violence against women, she recently directed Together We Are New York, an Asian American poetry project responding to the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Her debut book, Terrain Tracks, garnered the Many Voices Project prize and was nominated for the Asian American Writers’ Workshop Members’ Choice Award. Her current poetry project focuses on women’s desires, social status, and being. You can find more of her work at her website, purvipoets.net.