Current Issue

Stage IIa

The famous doctor, who is highly skilled
in optimism says, mastectomy
is just not needed for my mother. He looks

at her breasts, cups his hands
in prayer to mean: these are god’s gifts.
Rain falls as if god is moved and something

the size of a glass marble
moves
inside my mother. Only this time
it is not as simple as her sadness. 

On the way out, my dad collects
his coat and courage, hand on his heart
says, We are not worried at all, 

doctor sahab, about vanity, remove it
if needed. Within five days, the city
receives half its annual rain.

Within a year from the visit,  dad & I
weave If-only sentences.
What a shame they sound like 

compared to the hymns she sang,
the little gods she tied
around our healthy bodies.

Was the doctor’s verdict
a medical verdict or a man’s verdict
on what a woman must have

to look like a woman?
Like inseparable drops
doubts pool at our sills. 

We cry with the other
not looking. And when he recalls
this story, to himself or to guests, 

my dad, he never does not mention
the bright color of the umbrella
they left behind.


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Preeti Vangani is an Indian poet & personal essayist. She is the author of Mother Tongue Apologize (RLFPA Editions), her first book of poems ( winner of RL India Poetry Prize.) Her work has been published in BOAAT, Gulf Coast, Threepenny Review among other journals. She is the Poetry Editor for Glass, a Poet Mentor at Youth Speaks and holds an MFA (Writing) from University of San Francisco.