She was found
at a construction site off 376,
unearthed by a backhoe, naked
infant with no mother
but the dirt she breathed,
skin the color of red clay.

When she was seven,
homing pigeons taught her to sing,
began to bring her unsigned letters
written in scripts she could not read
and their paper was always
sun-warm in her hands,
smelled like sandalwood.
She bundled letters in stacks of 108
tied together with ribbon
and when she placed them under her pillow
at night she had dreams of snakes,
bonfires, and little boys
with elephant heads,
and they touched her
like she was sister or mother.

When she was twenty four
she married a man
who said he had been born from the sky,
fallen to earth
like a sheet of paper and like paper
he would slice at her fingertips.
At night she held her bundled letters,
sat in bed and ran her fingers
over their warmth.

Her husband watched
through half-closed eyes one evening,
watched her touch ink-dusted fingers
to her lips, watched her body
sigh at the taste
and each day that followed
he looked for the men with twenty arms
and ten tongues to devour her,
to whisper to him a list
of places they had desired her;
post office,
coffee shop,
or crosswalk.

27 mad days
and he took the stacks of paper
from beneath her pillow
to make a pyre of them in the yard.
Sticks and logs collapsed
into ash and the paper
remained only as warm as the sunlight.
Sita watched him from the bedroom window,
looked down at her hands,
thread-thin cuts he had left.

That night she walked
out onto the front lawn, robed
and barefoot, she walked
into the streets, out to the highway
and into the trees.
She put her cheek to the earth
and it cradled her, whispered,
Mother, mother.

Margaret Bashaar has been previously published in Caketrain, Brink Magazine, and The Susquehanna Review, and has a forthcoming publication in Taiga. She runs the poetry calendar for her home town of Pittsburgh over at poetz.com and is one of the co-founders and hosts of a series of readings in the city of Pittsburgh called The Typewriter Girls. (myhyacinthgirl@gmail.com)

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761