In South India

They call me Jezebel / so often / I’ve forgotten my own name.
I left it somewhere in Mamallapurum, where the elephant etchings
lumber out of the stone / lost it as I was climbing onto the millionth
train / shaking my bare shoulders at the sari-clad women.

Yes, I sleep in a small bed with four large men—
we debate religion and sex—the only two reasons to get on our knees.
I am the harlot. In an autorickshaw, the driver asks my name
and I improvise—Elizabeth
aristocratic, British, wealthy, rounded edges—the opposite of myself.

(I’m sharp, unmarried, American, obsessive.)

Boys, be outrageous with me! Sure, there are fewer rules for you to break. But still—
The wind funnels through—we pass goats/crows/dogs/boars/cats/horses/camels—
I am all of them, none of them, nameless.

 


Caroline KesslerCaroline Kessler, a recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, was raised outside of Baltimore. Her poetry and prose has been published in The Susquehanna Review, Dossier, and Collision, among others. She currently lives (and bicycles!) in San Francisco.

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