When the Women Refuse to Speak

by Sunita Theiss

Sometimes I imagine I am an elephant,
Lumbering across worn train tracks—

Ignoring horns and screeching brakes,
Ignoring I am at risk of going extinct.

I am an old, wrinkled mother presiding
Over her daughters, a sanctuary in the herd.

Stories etched into my weathered skin,
My body is not too big for the others.

Sometimes I picture our ancestors—
Singing of seven rivers, curses, sisters.

Imagine their abstinence and early morning
Prayers, prostrate before the rising sun.

Kings drew lines and trampled all they tended,
Mothers bore the children of their conquerors—

We descendants breathe the same discord.
We only know how to fortify our borders.

The daughter of Indian immigrants, Sunita Theiss was born and raised in Georgia. She is an alumna of VONA/Voices, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in MER VOX, Jaggery, Whale Road Review, Gordon Square Review, and others. She still lives in Georgia with her family, not far from her childhood home.

 

Photography by: Om Prakash Sethia