by Kuhu Joshi
(New Delhi, India)
The red earth is so red.
are strong-boned, with bones
that stick to their muscles
their brown dark brown, I would say earth-
colored muscles. But the earth is red
and they are not. The earth
it seems has many many colours.
The fields roll yellow
and sparkle light-green
like grass in crayon drawings.
I am lighter-skinned and taller,
better built in some ways, worse
in others. From farming and babies
and goats and chicken, these women
have different very different bodies. Angled
at angles my laptop-desktop spine
cannot. The slick smoothness of their skin
to my Delhi-dust cheeks.
No one here has acne. The very
very old women have folds
in their skin. And three nose rings,
two on either side and one
on the septum. The only things made of
gold in this village.
The huts are red baked
red painted red matted red sweeped
red built with fingers
red smoothed with palms
red from the earth
they are walking on. Lives in this perimeter
of 5 kilometres. White teeth
grinning after a marriage ritual.
There is a party shelter
thatched with banana leaves
and bamboo leaves?
I’m not sure which leaves
but leaves that are large and sturdy
like limbs. Leaves a canopy
over four sticks. In the middle sits
a rooster, head-chopped and roasted.
And rice, and fruit
that looks like berries and peaches.
A balding man with hollow eyes, comes
and touches my arm. Asks me to join
the feast, offers me his drink.
A brown pine-wood brown bottle
made of glass. Smiles
the most innocent smile that any man
ever has. And fear
rumbles up my belly, while my brain
tries to remind me
this man, he is simple and happy.
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