Dear Mama – Nikita Bhardwaj

You told me I was born to be loved. 
          That I clawed out of the womb like a wild
                    thing, slick with my father’s breath 
          and the first smell of rain. 
We were alone, you and I, 
          woven into one another,
                    limbs trembling like sky before storm.
          At night, you taught me 
that men were mountains 
          as we curled up in Everest's maw. 
                    Coiled your fingers through mine, 
          weathered water on pearl; explained that the grooves 
in my palms were ley lines, my eyes streetlights 
          igniting wasteland. 
                    The valleys of your hips were carved by rivers. 
          So, open your mouth, catch the monsoon 
like a lightning bug --
          the watered are never broken.
                    When the rains arrived, 
          we danced until we drowned, 
watched as our sisters’ headscarves 
          disappeared between pooled lesions. 
                    Remember the rain, like gunshots, 
          bell-tied ankles jangling in the crossfire.
We forget now, in the dim light of dawn, 
          how we flinched at thunder, cowered
                    in mountain’s shadow, wept on the swollen 
          tongue of a beast untamed.
Mama, you watched me grow 
          legs and cross an ocean. You swore 
                    it wouldn’t rain here, but my eyes are smoked 
          with water. Mama,
forgive me, as I gaze slack-jawed 
          into the mouth of a behemoth. 
                    You told me I was born to be loved.
Nikita Bhardwaj

Nikita Bhardwaj is an Indian-American writer and student from New Jersey. She is an Iowa Young Writers’ Studio student whose work is published or forthcoming in the Eunoia ReviewOddball Magazine, and It’s Real Magazine, among others. She enjoys volleyball and long walks in beautiful places.

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