Girls are coming out of the woods,
wrapped in cloaks and hoods,
carrying iron bars and candles
and a multitude of scars, collected
on acres of premature grass and city
buses, in temples and bars. Girls
are coming out of the woods
with panties tied around their lips,
making such a noise, it’s impossible
to hear. Is the world speaking too?
Is it really asking, What does it mean
to give someone a proper resting?
Girls are
coming out of the woods, lifting
their broken legs high, leaking secrets
from unfastened thighs, all the lies
whispered by strangers and swimming
coaches, and uncles, especially uncles,
who said spreading would be light
and easy, who put bullets in their chests
and fed their pretty faces to fire,
who sucked the mud clean
xxxxxx off their ribs, and decorated
their coffins with briar. Girls are coming
out of the woods, clearing the ground
to scatter their stories. Even those girls
found naked in ditches and wells,
those forgotten in neglected attics,
and buried in river beds like sediments
from a different century. They’ve crawled
their way out from behind curtains
of childhood, the silver-pink weight
of their bodies pushing against water,
against the sad, feathered tarnish
of remembrance. Girls are coming out
of the woods the way birds arrive
at morning windows – pecking
and humming, until all you can hear
is the smash of their miniscule hearts
against glass, the bright desperation
of sound – bashing, disappearing.
Girls are coming out of the woods.
They’re coming. They’re coming.

(for Monika)

From Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods (Bloodaxe Books, £9.95)

 

Tishani Doshi is an award-winning poet and dancer of Welsh-Gujarati descent based in Tamil Nadu. She was born in Madras, India, in 1975. She won an Eric Gregory Award for her poetry in 2001. In 2006, she won the All-India Poetry Competition, and her debut collection, Countries of the Body (Aark Arts), won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. Her novel The Pleasure Seekers (Bloomsbury, 2010), was longlisted for the Orange Prize and shortlisted for the Hindu Fiction Award, and has been translated into several languages. Her second collection, Everything Begins Elsewhere, was published by Bloodaxe Books in 2012. Her third, Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods (Bloodaxe Books, 2018), is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.
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tishanidoshi.com

Author portrait © Carlo Pizzati

Tishani Doshi is touring the UK and Ireland from May to August, reading from and discussing her work
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