Sakhi Awards Special Mentions


Keep me burning

By Preeti Vangani 

I practiced crossing my legs the way my father daggered
his eyes at mother if I wore shorts. Twin openings
exposing more than what they could hold inside.
It took me three sex-ed classes & a crushed pamphlet
to know that I must fold and hold my body like a score
of eggs on a crowded subway. My period premiered
the night we went to watch Godzilla which wasn’t as scary
as the sports teacher asking bleeding students to sit separately,
in a lotus pose, a quick whip if the line of our panties showed
through the pinafore. We played telephone with our hands
instead of running in the sun. In Moral Science, the only girl
with waxed legs passed a chit under the smooth wooden desks
When he touches, I feel hot & cold at the same time. I lay
naked on our marble floor, fevered. Under his ripped, full-body
poster. I touched myself the way my sister braids and wiggles
her toes, over the phone, under the sheets, coral pink, her words
submerged seeds on strawberries (who knew those are achenes,
the berry’s ovaries). I asked mother what was the big deal
about sexing and she asked me if I’d eaten all my fruit at lunch.
What would Madonna have done? I vibrated all around
my pimpled years with a Walkman or a home karaoke mic
between my thighs knowing there was a sound inside
that would leak on any given Sunday in choir as he’d hit
his solo bits of Give Me Oil In My Lamp. If only there was a way
to touch the difference between fill and feel. If only I knew
how I could make origami of my shame and let it fly fly fly

Preeti Vangani is an MFA candidate at University of San Francisco. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in BOAAT, Public Pool, Juked, Lines+Stars and Knicknackery. She’s a spoken word poet and has been performing at many local San Francisco events including Voz Sin Tinta and Kearny Street Workshop. She is the winner of RL India Poetry Prize judged by Robert Archambeau



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