Poetry London Clore Prize 2019: 3rd PRIZE

Anita Pati

Manju

Because he liked the toddy,
because he twinkled for her,
he beat her.
Because he towered and
she was a bird, because he was soused
and the kerosene cask
to cook sabzi exploded it seems and.
Because her nylon saree
of plum and curd
kindled and flared,
the thatch flamed
like spathodea
and the roof withered –
he creased back her throat
to see the sky.
Because she laboured
with filigree wrists of bone,
a waist you could twist,
to feed her boys, because
because the littler pined to be
an American rocket star,
his head bent up –
the rain came in and
she’d take his whipping
always again
on her keloid skin
because through the gap
in the broken hut
she saw only stars.