Prathna Lor

They come down and ask me where I am from. They point and touch my bone and say this is estrangement without home. Are you the canister of flesh. The light bomb in our joints. I've slicked the cadavers. I've sent those boys home. I walk a walk that is without burning. A horse sits down to desiccate. A woman rises, is waxing, turning the hue. I am the breadth of Suriname, they say, the hulls of your galleys, what galleys. They want to know where my feathers lie. Where the sticks of my girth are hidden. Where are your Zilts and Zurrs. Your Kikoisi and Dradada. They touch me and touch me and tell me I am not a name of my own calling. These noises are nip. I tell them that this city is my city. These streets are my streets. In the chimney you see me breathing. In the headlights you see me laughing. The sewers rise up in me. They tell me I am wrong, wrong, dead wrong. I must be of the S—o. I tell them that the windows are my words. Those cars have sent me forward. When I scream there are no walls, no crossings, no pedestrians in sight. I must be of the S—o. I left my head in the Savannahs, my arteries in the heart of the Congo. I am sleeping sideways along the Nile. Where I have been is nowhere. I know no trajectories, no calcium in the belly. In the body of Africa I placed a sleeping vessel. I threw my arms up in the Himalayas. I have left echoes in the deep American South. I know that the oceanic barriers are erect and without flood. The Polynesian Islands have known the traces of my teeth. A rover, a rover—wont you come play red rover. They ask me where my ornament is. Those decadent teeth must be ivory. These shallow, shallow pools of lead. They make noises that do not sound like noises with which I am familiar. They make noises and they sing. They ask me if I am made of silk or satin. They want to know where I am hiding in the bowels of A——. They ask me why I am not red enough. They ask me why the Mekong does not drain out of me; why does she not sit kindly in the bottom of my blinding. They want to put their fists through me. They want to take me down and slide me under mattresses. They want to hold my wrists up and straddle me. They want to love love so much love me. They take me down to the gutters, the worms, say I should be capable of snorting haunting barg. You are of an ilk that eats anything. You are of an ilk whose cuisine can beautify anything. You are of an ilk. I want to know what the orchestra is saying, you without a name to sit on. If I am on the metro they are the first to seize me. Where are you from where are you from where are you from. Your decals are not ornament. Your jeans are inauthentic. Why are your skirts without tassels. Those heels belong on the treadmill. We're going down deeper, deeper still, without want or worry. The lights are brick. There are people sifting dust. What popular intercity migration that is with and without intent. There are barriers we never cross even though every moment is a crossing. They follow me into dusk. Alleyways are no longer interesting. The wrought happens on concrete, on sidewalks, on curbsides. There are people without looking. I am sprawled on the asphalt city. I have known thicker smoke. I have felt harder air. I've shot too many birds. I've slept too many cattle. They give me their hands and demand divination. A language that speaks prophecy is unknown to me. I have never known a tortoise. I have never mangled its corpse. Its shells are a fiction. Its affinity a murky dream. They bring the saddleback and tongue. Can I walk a crippled walk when this is done. The breastplate has undone itself. Flat, flat, is a discordant thing. I am bringing up the reels. The hair is smolden. The cosmetics are off. Again they ask me why my bone is not showing. Bone, bone—what bone. I have been hollowed out of glass.











"How come you answer so quick-quick for another man? You think you know what mek a man tick? You can't even know you own self, Boy. You really think you can know he or me?" —Wilson Harris, The Palace of the Peacock