In this vivid, resonant poem, the ageing body is mirrored in the archetype of the crone – old woman, wise woman, goddess.
You see her. Unwise.
into her failing
of white hair. Unsaintly
the weight. Revolted
by leaky creaky
days are past. Blind.
Blind to her
you laugh crookedly,
as you leave
gripping the rails
beside the toilet seat.
She sees you. Mirror-wise.
mascara, muted berry
lipstick. Hushed blush vanishing
at ear point. Careful
fingers touching hair.
Her compassionate eyes
guide you through
Shikhandin is the pen name of an Indian writer. Books include “After Grief – Poems” (Red River, India), “Impetuous Women” (Penguin-Random House India), “Immoderate Men” (Speaking Tiger), and “Vibhuti Cat” (Duckbill-Penguin-Random House India). Honours include, runner up George Floyd Short Story Contest 2020 (UK), Pushcart nominee by Aeolian Harp (USA) 2019, Pushcart nominee by Cha: An Asian Literary Journal (Hong Kong) 2011, Winner 2017 Children First Contest curated by Duckbill in association with Parag an initiative of Tata Trust, First Prize Brilliant Flash Fiction Contest 2019 (USA), Runner up Erbacce Poetry Prize (UK), Winner 35th Moon Prize (Writing in a Woman’s Voice: USA), First Runner up The DNA-OoP Short Story Contest 2016 (India), Second Prize India Currents Katha Short Story Contest 2016 (USA), First Prize Anam Cara Short Fiction Competition 2012 (Ireland), Long list Bridport Poetry Prize 2006 (UK), Finalist Aesthetica Poetry Contest 2010 (UK). Shikhandin’s prose and poetry have been widely published in India and abroad in online and print journals and anthologies.
This poem was submitted for our latest mini-series, Our Body’s Bodies
Everything is written on the body – but what does it mean to write about our bodies in the era of Covid-19? And is it possible to write about bodily experiences in the face of such pervasive and continued violence? Using different modes of writing and art making, Lucy Writers presents a miniseries featuring creatives whose work, ideas and personal experiences explore embodiment, bodily agency, the liberties imposed on, taken with, or found in our bodies. Beginning from a position of multiplicity and intersectionality, our contributors explore their body’s bodies and the languages – visual, linguistic, aural, performance-based and otherwise – that have enabled them to express and reclaim different forms of (dis)embodiment in the last two years. Starting with the body(s), but going outwards to connect with encounters that (dis)connect us from the bodies of others – illness, accessibility, gender, race and class, work, and political and legal precedents and movements – Our Body’s Bodies seeks to shine a light on what we corporally share, as much as what we individually hold true to.
Bringing together work by artistic duo Kathryn Cutler-MacKenzie and Ben Caro, poet Emily Swettenham, writer and poet Elodie Rose Barnes, author Ayo Deforge, writer and researcher Georgia Poplett, writer and poet Rojbîn Arjen Yigit, writer and researcher Hannah Hutchings-Georgiou and many others, as well as interviews with and reviews of work by Elinor Cleghorn, Lucia Osbourne Crowley and Alice Hattrick, Lucy Writers brings together individual stories of what our bodies have endured, carried, suffered, surpassed, craved and even enjoyed, because…these bodies are my body; we are a many bodied being. Touch this one, you move them all, our bodies’ body.
We also welcome pitches and contributions from writers, artists, film-makers and researchers outside of the Lucy Writers’ community. Please inquire for book reviews too.
For submissions relating to trans and non-binary culture email firstname.lastname@example.org
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For reviews, prose submissions, artwork and general inquiries email firstname.lastname@example.org
Submissions are open from 6 January 2022 until the end of April 2022.
For the full Call Out, click here.
Feature image: Cell (Eyes and Mirrors), 1993 by Louise Bourgeois under fair use