Born of a sugarcane stalk
to descend barrack steps
story this grass is my ancestor,
To forget is to survive; I am expert
under handfuls of rice-field dirt
into sky, to forecast gravity
of shit. Now the land is erased
of interpreting shadow,
a trick of memory that erases.
how to disappear straight and
bribed by silk and hate, a relic:
that's licked assholes bald,
the many toothed snake
a terrible well of black water.
This poem draws from Vijay Mishra's assertion that the "origin myth" of indenture era Indian forced migration is that of trauma and crossing the kalapani (literally "black water"—the sea) by ship for the Caribbean. The word "hiranyagarbha" is the primordial egg of creation birthed by Vishnu's navel. Here I show that there is also a history of queers that migrated to the British sugar plantations as well. It's subtle and the evidence of individuals is scant but through a process of reading the holes in the official accounts such narratives become clear. This is dedicated to one individual whose story was excavated by Gaiutra Bahadur's text Coolie Woman. Her name was Rukmini and she was a hijra that was able to hide long enough to make it to the Caribbean. I see these journeyers, these badass arrivants as my ancestors.