Stone Telling

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by Shweta Narayan

Words split
my tongue, bloodied
diamonds from your tales --
solitary, bright
        -edged.  I spoke

       sentences once, sticky
with mangoes --
         pucker-sour green kai, hard
and sharp, softening 
to pazham, maambazham -- ripe, retroflex,
 noḷanoḷa full.  My cut tongue 
stings with words
      gone sour.

                       I hissed sibilants
once, begged secrets of black-sand Naga mothers
noḷanoḷa soft.  Heat-smell, 
          word-dance, sloughing
this split skin.  I blazed
in the coiled sun's whisper, spun
  molten breath.  I need

my vaaṇi, snake song
kai-colored memory.  I echo
your bleached facets
knot my tongue, and you


          I speak.

Shweta Narayan was smelted in India's summer, quenched in the monsoon, wound up on words in Malaysia, and pointed westwards. She surfaced in Saudi Arabia, The Netherlands, and Scotland before settling in California, where she lives on language, veggie tacos, and the internet. She has learned to read Tamil script at least thrice now; like dreams or magic, it fades.

Her poetry has recently appeared or is forthcoming in places like Goblin Fruit, Mythic Delirium, and Jabberwocky. She was the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship recipient at the 2007 Clarion workshop. Shweta can be found on the web at

Kalpana Raghuraman is a dancer, choreographer and teacher of dance, based in the Netherlands. She performs both traditional Bharatanatyam and contemporary forms. Her website is Photography by KGS.