Feature image by Sonia Mehra Chawla. Encapsulate IV B, 2008. Mixed media on canvas, 30 1/10 × 30 1/10 in, 76.5 × 76.5 cm. © Sonia Mehra Chawla.


She remembers from inside the story,
inside the forest’s heart (a flush of green):
a dowry of twigs. Tree trunks as thick as lies.

When she is allowed, she misses herself,
covets the clean corners where her bones
meet, the dull pulse of her tongue on his.

All those misplaced stars, a misery
she can’t find. She has killed things
(though it is forbidden) with her hands

(the wedding mehndi long-faded),
has eaten on the wrong day, forgotten
to fast. She has pulled the strings

of the jungle behind her like a black net,
a wide-mouthed yawn. She holds it tight
so it can’t grow when she isn’t looking.

Vandana Khanna

Vandana Khanna is the author of two full-length collections, Train to Agra and Afternoon Masala. Her poems have won the Crab Orchard Review First Book Prize, the Miller Williams Poetry Prize, and the Diode Editions Chapbook Competition. Her work has appeared in the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series, The New Republic, New England Review, and Guernica. She is a poetry editor at The Los Angeles Review.