Ashley Somwaru

Eh Gyal, Yuh Nah Get Shame?

      want           to be bludgeoned
don’t you?
You want

egg shaped eyes rolling down

your jucking hips, Bhaiya

to come home with his latthi

maarela and welt

you halahala blue
wheat drooping over yesterday’s

scraps of rain.
See from our
belly flopping

      over the bunched up sari.
Opening thighs–

wolf’s snarl
— closing–
      spider’s web blocking noon. Legs
      scissoring cloth
for jhandi flags. Spine arched
like the leather belt used for beatings.

Slicked with soap and Black
Label. Pata stink.

Your body
as boulders breaking
sea waves.




ing time with your hips behind
the baraat.

Tassa player’s beat
      growing out of a turtle’s shell.

We been ah watch
alla de tings

      tumbling out        of you

since Bhaiya
put a mala
pon yuh neck.

Durva grass in bunches of ten.

Red ants crawling
towards the pupil. Cotton

balls soaked in hydrogen
      peroxide. Cat eyes
silver brunia.
The moon is now a burning

orange globe. The sun
is dying.
Bhaiya ah wuk but

clothes grated against

the wooden washboard

      bristled off the roadside       tawa


bitter gourd sapped with oil
and heartburn
      never flows from you.

Water is leaking
through the boulder cracks.

Your cracks
are leaking
car motors
crow bars
      dead children

in the sky

just the width

of your eyes        apart

from each other.

And then you say
we don’t

Dear Little One

Does it make you smile to know there was someone more muddied than you?

When your auntie said Oh, yes, that Iris’s brother. No one wanted her anyway. She’s lucky he married her, why did you decide the conversation was over? The thought of a body hanging from the ceiling post probably never occurred to you. It never used to occur to me either. But you never paused when you walked down the road the next day and didn’t see her there anymore. The girl whose skin reminds you of the black cake you only eat on New Year’s. You claimed it as happenstance. Claimed it as: who sees a stranger twice in their life?

Is this what you wanted?

I remember seeing you in the back room, stuffing your cheeks with rolls of tissue so you couldn’t sob as dougla played over and over in your head.You didn’t understand why your mother panicked and yelled as you put a cloth over your head and walked as if listening to a wedding procession. Or the times you stuffed your shirt with a pillow and your mother chased you with a slipper.

How she rejoiced when you ate out of the pot and swept your feet with a coconut broom. How she pushed you into the sun, ran her cold hands over your newly tinted skin, and said the words, lightness doesn’t mean a thing. Said the words I wish
you alone.

How you chomped on her biceps instead of bowing your head at her feet. Forgetting the one who fed you ice cream and told you to finger the musket in her bedroom. Who told you to shoot the roosters in the backyard, so you know what death feels like. So you can learn how the heart chants I want to live.

You didn’t understand before your mother became who she was, she was a motorcycle rider, a woman who could hold her head under water long enough to show you what breathing means. You should’ve said, Mother, I’ll stop feeding off your arms. Mother, I’ll let you stop slipping yourself into the pot.

You didn’t.

You’ll regret that.

Are you happy knowing there’s a woman you never tried to see again?

Or not knowing if she might be walking bent or not at all. They took a picture of her, whose skin was unheated coal, and rubbed her face between their creases. You just looked away.

Your uncle called you dougla gyal and you spent the rest of the day scrubbing sugar into your dark spots and trying to straighten the curls out of your hair. Did it feel good to sit in that circle and make fun of her? When your cousin said she so black, yuh cyan even see de dirt dey on she feet, did you sigh in relief that the group of girls sitting on the bed weren’t looking your way this time?

You should’ve grabbed the picture out of your cousin’s hands. You let her with the black caked skin wicker into the wrinkles forming underneath your eyes.

Can you live with this?

I can’t tell you what happened to her that day. There are just some things I can’t repeat.

Ashley Somwaru is an Indo-Caribbean woman who was born and raised in Queens, New York. She received an MFA in poetry from CUNY Queens College. Somwaru has published a chapbook with Ghostbird Press in 2021 titled Urgent \\ Where The Mind Goes \\ Scattered. Previous work has been published in Lammergeier, Newtown Literary, Solstice, SWWIM, The Margins, VIDA Review, and elsewhere.

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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis ( is the Editor-in-chief and founder of Posit ( and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom (winner of the Washington Prize), Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies such as Walkers in the City (Rain Taxi), They Said (Black Lawrence Press), and Resist Much, Obey Little (Dispatches/Spuyten Duyvil), as well as in journals such as Agni, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Conjunctions online, Diode, Interim, New American Writing, and VOLT.