Salt-Water Lotus-Bone

Jhilam Chattaraj

                                How shall I cross this bridge to nowhere?
                                an ancient ache between sinuses
                                watches me come undone
                                does it still rise from the sweet ruins of the dress
                                I wore on our first date?

Saturday. 
Jarring neurons map an ambush.
This throb, chased by hounds, 
inspects the lips of sour gases
and vanishes into the valium haze of dusk.
 
Think. Even the moon who l loved like my sister 
will not feed me stillness in teaspoons, tonight.

Sunday.
Leaden eyes absorb the bruised
words of Max Ritvo.
His faint foot fall
sets the sixteenth floor of my body on fire;

migraines meditate on brows,
nerves peel, snake-skin, phosphorus woman
dressed in ashes—many heads squeeze into one

they       don’t
defeat    the doors
closed upon
the perfumes
of the
world
A whorl of cranium chaos I a million wounds in drag

Monday. 
Late in the dark oils of midnight, 
when pills have apologized to pain,
a woman, wrapped in prayers,
a dākinī*, taps on my window.
Riding on ants, she whispers into my ears:


At the edge of dawn,
a sunbird collects mist on her feathers,
offers a cup of thin brine,
sliced roots underneath its translucence,

there is no bottom to her compassion

house of sawdust becomes wet to the bone.
trunk of thorns swells into a home. 

*Dakini in Sanskrit, Khandro in Tibetan, literally means “sky dweller” or “sky dancer,” and is the most sacred aspect of the feminine principle in Tibetan Buddhism, embodying both humanity and divinity in feminine form.



Jhilam Chattaraj is an academic and poet based in Hyderabad, India. She has authored the books, Corporate Fiction: Popular Culture and the New Writers (2018) and the poetry collection When Lovers Leave and Poetry Stays (2018). Her works have been published at Room, Porridge, Queen Mob’s Tea House, Colorado Review, World Literature Today and Asian Cha among others. She received the CTI Excellence Award in ‘Literature and Soft Skills Development,’ 2019 from the Council for Transforming India and the Department of Language and Culture, Government of Telangana, India. 

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