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You must believe your mother a proper darling, or an absolute enemy

Updated: Dec 14, 2022

By Akhila Pingali

so when the gold in her ear catches the sun, it does not set fire to your eye.

Your body, in circular purgatory—

your body—a weathervane

in a hurricane—

your body of two minds, singular, maternal—


you come out into a clearing after a vertiginous frenzy in a forest.

The silence is of the sun now, a breathing kind of quiet, your breath so lucid you can

see it pooling under the sky.

Imagine the fullness of this knowledge—and now this: a rustle. The shade falls,

oblique and untrusting.

Under its hood, a pair of embers like unmade wishes.

I fail

to find the way, marked as it is

with two-headed arrows.

At the shrine a neck hung under a halo rippling electric: pride at the ebb, guilt

at the flow

the priest unspeaking.

What I mean to say is, when a mother is a beacon in the wild—when a mother is a

holy blinking between shadows—

must you thank the light

or must you renounce all



Akhila Pingali is a research scholar and translator based in Hyderabad, India. Her work has appeared in SoFloPoJo, trampset, Five Minutes, Brave Voices Magazine, Tint Journal, Contemporary Literary Review India, and an anthology called Ninety-Seven Poems. You can find her on Twitter @AkhilaPingali.

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