Ananya Kanai Shah

Three shades of afternoon light—gluttonous—
                             Salt me when I open the door
I wasn’t expecting it
                             Marigold mouths pout          Fresh leaves threaded to greet newcomers
What a betrayal then, to curdle with sweetness!
                             Bile sapped with vestal orange stains my fingers
I reach into plaster mouths       
                             Feel stems arranged in comedy
An uncaring sweetness hinges the door
                             Humid wood tumescent                                                                                         
                                                                                   I walk along the mud road lined with banana plants
My brother measures the lost inches with a ruler                                               
                             3 and a quarter, over Kendrick Lamar                                                                                
Refracted, he buries his face into a pillow
                             I block sounds of cilia rustling
                                                                                   Warmth after lunch blisters glass
                             Blues and ochres echo                                         
                                                                                   Inside, cold milk quails acid reflux
                             Throats plummet into fragrance
A single body rests under a cotton rajai
                             I am scared of pleasure                                                                                          
Who to think of?                    
                             I stop it                                           
                                                                                   I am angry for not having self-respect  
Xylem stains yellow blankets                          
                             The lawn furrowed and restless
In the garden bulbous with marigold:
                             Cousins teach grandmas how to dance
In the shade, my mother oils my hair
                             She makes a French braid     Trusting hands gentle on grass a laughing mirage
A veil of dry flowers covers quiet neem                           
                             An arid night-sheet wrung twice more, gaping and free