Lesson in stillness

All morning I try to hold it —

the desperation of a fly

beating against glass,

a dog's distant bark,

the dull throb of a lorry

winding its way up the hills.

By afternoon I think I've mastered it.

Nothing the world offers me

can be as complete or as full as this.

When I step in to the light,

I have no song for the stones,

no thought for the grass.

I only want to remember

this long road,

this steady pulse,

which feels like love.

So when evening

feeds itself to night,

clearing the way

for frost or flood,

I'll still be left with this —

the bright suffocation of flowers,

the weight of the day's hours.

The River of Girls

i.m. India’s missing girls

This is not really myth or secret.

This murmur in the mouth

of the mountain where the sound

of rain is born. This surging

past pilgrim town and village well.

This coin-thin vagina

and acid stain of bone.

This doctor with his rusty tools,

this street cleaner, this mother

laying down the bloody offerings

of birth. This is not the cry

of a beginning, or a river

buried in the bowels of the earth.

This is the sound of ten million girls

singing of a time in the universe

when they were born with tigers

breathing between their thighs;

when they set out for battle

with all three eyes on fire,

their golden breasts held high

like weapons to the sky.

The poems are from Tishani Doshi's new collection of poems, Everything Begins Elsewhere (HarperCollins).