have been, a forgetting of water cows the color of old rust
on iron, pelage sumptuous. I thought of a cloud
of bones broken, rising in air, like rain moving upwards,
bone-white sky, men killed for what they eat, for meat
they need, for surviving, breath weight wait
India, in three years, we killed 44 men, wounded more than
a hundred, for the sake of cows. Ruminate
that. Satna, Tuticorin, cities of cement and religion.
How much god does one need to inhale
before becoming beast? Bodies map our land in ones
and twos, beaten, scarred. They mark this parched lake,
a blood motif lumbering across our aching lands.
The numbers of the killed were true when the poem was written. They may have risen since. Many others may be unreported.
Anindita Sengupta is the author of City of Water (Sahitya Akademi) and Walk Like Monsters (Paperwall.in). Her work has appeared in several anthologies and in Plume, One, High Desert Journal, Asian Cha, The Indian Quarterly among others. She is from Mumbai, India, and currently lives in Los Angeles.