||There is something wrong
with the world
When women are compelled to slaughter
their youth and become soot inside the chimney.
When the only math a girl knows
is to count the piling cadavers in her arms.
When the only science she understands
is that her womb is a pomegranate with seeds.
When the only respect she seeks
is going to bed without handprints on her face.
If my feet of teenage years crossed
the border, starvation would abandon us.
Paper, with Gandhi’s face embossed, would live
in our wallets, my father was promised by men
who had dug a tunnel of opportunity through
his weakness, termites in the holes of our walls.
An illiterate man with blindfolds
should never have been given a pen.
I couldn’t say a word as thumbprints sealed
the fate of my adult years.
Second-class citizens, mummies in tombs,
girls are where I come from.
An empty suitcase was given to me,
so I could bring back to Kathmandu flavors
of my experiences for those younger than me.
On moonless nights, stars reveal my silhouette
to hyenas who then nibble on my living flesh.
I don’t blink, fill my bag with bricks for my parents’
© 2011 Sweta
Sweta Srivastava Vikram (www.swetavikram.com)
a two times Pushcart nominated-poet, novelist,
author, essayist, columnist, educator, and blogger.
She is the author of three chapbooks of poetry: Because
All Is Not Lost, Kaleidoscope:
An Asian Journey of Colors, and
Beyond the Scent of Sorrow
(upcoming). She is also the co-author of two poetry
Woes of Ganges & Zambezi and Not
All Birds Sing.
Her first fiction novel,
Perfectly Untraditional, will be released in
2011. Her first nonfiction book of prose and poems,
will be published in 2012.
Sweta’s work has appeared in literary journals,
online publications, and anthologies across United
States, United Kingdom, Canada, India, New Zealand,
and Philippines. Sweta was short-listed for the
Unisun Poetry Prize and awarded a part scholarship
for Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation in San
Francisco. She has held several artist residencies
in Europe and America and worked on collaborative
projects with artists from Zimbabwe and Australia.
Sweta is seen at poetry and prose readings across
the United States, Europe, and Asia. She also
teaches creative writing workshops. A graduate of
Columbia University, Sweta lives in New York City.
Follow her: On Twitter (@ssvik) or Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/Words.By.Sweta)