Tightrope

This soil breathes silence, alike
On both sides of the barbed wire.
It is the land trapped within that screams
Uncountable, untold, unseen stories
Non-fictions and biographies that only
lost generations can be bothered to cherish.

They always told me
I was theirs to bear and someone else’s
Fortune. I was to learn
The trade of being the good wife
To be worthy of my keeper,
My sustainer, my god, my husband.

It is the soil that sparkles red now
And reminds of evenings I spent
Waiting, waiting cloaked in sindoor,
While he drowned in amberness
And melted down some other’s black cleavage.
He crossed a line then, which only I could see.

They drilled the silence into my brain
And all my revolt eventually seeped out.
Married, Mother and Morose
was me, then. It was when I ran away,
that I saw the fermenting red within me that had
procreated to build my fire.

Side stepping pain, I tip-toed across
The minefield littered with this and that –
My alternatives were fuzzy. Where do I buy the love to
Replace my dethroned god?
Disbelieving was my Everest, a second brush
with the same fate didn’t come hard though.

And as the trail of my destiny got hotter,
(yes I could feel the boils under my bare feet)
I de-clothed myself. It was the brown that startled me
So plain and cracked, like that barren land
I was crossing in a rich man’s wagon.

He promised to love me like he loved that land,
In return for the ride. And he did.
I should have known – read it off
The poor soil’s roughly combed bare hand,
Engraved deep with blood and sweat,
Of the others. It struck me only when I kneeled,
Unbuckling his belt to my future cracked mirror.

I crossed the length of seven states
And charted maps over three generations in my head
To get here. The red was still in me, and,
For the first time, I saw it in their eyes too.
It was in the air, the way owls crowed at night.
Not one of us slept then, petrified as we were
That our boundaries might come back to arrest us.

But I’ve got a gun now. A uniform and a badge too.
I stand on this side of the border,
I keep vigil. They never try to enter when we’re cooking in the sun here.
It was always my job to protect,
To nurture. Never thought a gun could nurture,
But for this brown soil, it seems, nothing less will do.

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