TWI Poetry: Renewal


Anu Mahadev

birds under bridge


Walk through the holy water.

They said that is the only way to
baptize yourself, shed your sins.

But I burst forth – a rush of blooms,
a blossom of mistakes.

Like a cardamom forced out of its husk
with a pestle.

Not every renewal comes
with nectar and snowmelt.

Sometimes, the popularity contests
took me too far. Whispers.

“She is dark. She is ugly. Too serious.”

Spring left me behind. Puberty came
and went. And the only thing I had
to show for it was acne.

And a thick waist.

While others were hasty to shed
their raincoats, their sweaters,
I hugged mine a little longer.

Just in case, a water hyacinth
would take pity on me.

Permeate some of her fresh scent,
her pulchritude.

Or wipe out my imperfect horoscope.

Walking around a tree with a garland
is the only way, they said.

Youth, that fickle, wicked trickster,
washed over me. Like mercury over
a smooth mirror.

Not every renewal comes with a red
carpet and confetti.

Sometimes I wanted to scream,
Look at me, I’m changed, I’m a new person.

And no, plastic surgery was not involved.

Not every renewal comes
with the gift of motherhood.

Sometimes I had to see
my eggs in a petri dish, crack a wishbone,

hoping to see my blessings passed on.

But no matter how hard I tried,
I couldn’t run far enough, or fast enough.

I am now middle-aged.
None of it matters any more.

I’ve been given wings for a short while,
to fly over forbidden pastures.

To see what could have been.

But not every renewal comes
with a warning.

Sometimes you just have to burn,
touch the embers of hell before
some angel gives you a second chance.

This is it. The season of truth, and forgiving.

Anu Mahadev is a New Jersey based poet, a 2016 MFA graduate from Drew University, NJ and Senior editor for TWI. She is passionate and outspoken about issues such as domestic violence, girls’ education and independence, and depression/bipolar disorder.

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