there’s a way to be an Indian woman
we are always told to respect our elders; ah they are
old, their perspectives obsolete.
perhaps you agree that we are meant to be
the homemakers: “make” children whenever best for man, because only they can be
the breadwinners: who “win” dowries as preliminary payments for
the “care”: the minimal pleasure with half thrust and lips distant from
the skin: they use to display their reproductive fitness.
i don’t like their rules but i am told to be small and obey now
that i am a woman: gold
bangles gifted to me when red stained the sheets and my body became
lush green. my garden is for
another to tend. that’s why they gave me beauty—seen when they decided, the men
without the “wo” I have.
_____why can’t we be touched first? after all,
_____they pick us for the way our saris outline our hips
_____(our breeding plumage). we must impress them…not even for love!
__________imagine if our bodies had never bled red. we wouldn’t be women.
_______________imagine if we never birthed a child. we wouldn’t be women.
____________________why must a woman be a mother?
_________________________or else just a weed in the lawn?
_______________why are transgender men who give birth still women
_________________________when they don’t want the “wo”?
there’s a way to be an Indian woman without me
defining our roles as mothers—by imagining
that they don’t care to patiently aerate our soil.
i have been taught that gender is a doing, so
i have fought to do shit: own my body panathey!
the way all of us must till
we are no longer restricted like an orgasm.
Stuthi Iyer is a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh and a young poet to the world of publication. This piece is an attempt at understanding her gender role in the context of her Indian lineage. Other work is forthcoming in the Better Than Starbucks poetry magazine.