powerful woman

your palm is a map, they said
drawn upon with lines
by a man above you, they said
your future is there
where the line

(and what is a palm but a leaf but a land but a country)
(and what is a line but divide but a border but fate but a worry)

how long i will last depends
on how i am held, they said
whether a hand is extended in
a fist or caress.
which means, will they love me
roughly or, well

(and what is a fist but landlock but a trap but stopped breath but control)
(and what is a caress but medicine but peace but an exhalation but love)

so i teach the land of me how to breathe
to inhale and exhale
someone else’s decisions, they said
i must find balance, walk the line
ready to spread myself
wide as a smile, call it love, don’t
scream it inside a fist, then
move on, forget
gather my skirt full of memory

(and what is a tightrope but decisions but existence but what happens to you)
(and what is balance but finally, power to a woman)

when i’m splayed five finger wide
like a palm frond in the wind,
it is still only an invitation if i say so
yet i know you often do not care.
even during a storm,
when i say welcome, come in
i know i could be left
in peace or in pieces, they said

it all depends on the hand
you’re given.

(and what is a country but something governed)
(and what is a woman but something governed)
(and what is man without a hand to govern)

in search of happy endings,
i span the equator
wound that cuts me in
two or more places, i learn
to call those wounds homes:
thatch them with thoughts and
erect them upon my heart till they push
out roots, and give way
for flowers

(and what is growth but defeating the odds)
(and what is blooming but a woman, without)

keep going, they say
your life is always there:
somewhere else.

and i’m searching still
travelling newer terrains
till the land of me stops breathing and
even my palm will not remember
the power it never held.



Artwork by Mequitta Ahuja, “Performing Painting: Seated Scribbler”, 2015

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