The fishmonger’s wife / c. s. bhagya

Baskets of fish heave mighty wharves
of warm stench, speckling my doorway
like broken crabs—spindly legs askew.
.
Because I am a fishmonger’s wife
you thought you could visit me at night,
unaware
.
on summer mornings
I smell of conches, their smooth
white glide and sound of sea.
.
At nights your women sit in front of
mirrors with fairness creams, but I
claw through their mountains of dirt
.
with water-scabbed hands,
and their darkness seeps into me,
cutting across skin and muscle
.
leaving my teeth, eyes
so bright
they could be radium.
.
One day,
I will lift my skirts and breasts,
my bulging haunches,
.
peel layer after layer and see
how thick rays of that darkness
have soaked deep, become inextricable,
.
that on stepping out of my body
I will find my very bones have turned
black.
.
•••

C.S. Bhagya lives in Bangalore, India. She is an undergraduate of psychology, English literature, and journalism. Her work has appeared before in the online literary journal Poor Mojo’s Almanac(k).

One comment

  1. Reply

    I find that this poem carries a sense of mystery. There is a sense of social inequality that a male wishes to take advantage of in the opening stanza “Because I am a fishmonger’s wife/you thought you could visit me at night, unaware”. In the end, she seems to identify more with the fish and creatures of the sea that those who are above her socially. I guess there would not take advantage of her. There is mystery and beauty in that. My interpretation, of course.

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