The Girl on the Street
Sewing spit silknesses of herself
--uncomfortable, muddied Likenesses,
|"Pittance" Watercolor & Ink on Paper|
By J. Artemus Gordon
Soot black, but blinding
this girl is a supernova of bits and bobs.
Shimmying trails of trashcans
adorning ankles, wire wristbands,
satin torn--stitched bubbled skirt--
hem blood-soaked, unevenly hurt.
Trailing lice and mice
this girl is a galaxy of eyes,
turned her way, then conscious, away.
Steeped teabag--skin, tough
--a landscape of grime, she looks rolled in oats and curry-
coated like cracker-dust coats the shy cake in a hurry.
Melting and melded by sun rays, brambly rain,
yelling thunder, wind gust tornadoes of gutter hair and pain.
--This girl is every season, every reason
every monsoon, every treason
wrought by nature insane.
She stuffs her ire in a sandbag heavy, leaden;
brings it to car windows where it balloon-lightens, leavens.
POPS! outside windshield and window panes--
her reality splatters like so many larvae pupate
Dreams squirm, struggle, can’t surface--
too tight cocoons bind them airless, nervous,
over car hood spreads the junket of her life's remains.
This girl cleans the hood-mess for a few pennies less.
The glossy metal is now without stain.
See her, this girl--
she is exceptional with pain.
She is goaded to normality
by my eye lens of rationality.
See this girl without tint, with a power hose of truth
then go home and put on your blackest suit.
Come with me, we are bereaved--it is insanity
--see this girl, infinity arrayed, she is your and my humanity.
Poet's Notes: This poem is about all those street children in every corner of the world who stand at car windows looking in from the outside, who live in shanties by the road and watch other children go to school as they head to work in a sweatshop. India is those children, those unwanted girls, whom we Indians are largely conditioned to ignore.
Editor’s Note: The descriptive language and metaphors in this poem are fresh and new--haunting. The piece works well taken as a straight narrative poem but becomes more powerful when one considers the subject of the poem as a grand metaphor for turning a blind eye to the poor and destitute. "This girl is a galaxy of eyes, / turned her way, the conscious, away"--what a brilliant way of expressing the poetic conceit. Aparna uses rhyme to her advantage too, helping to drive home her message.