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Vanesha Pravin


Sweet Milk

for my mother Hemma, born in 1947, the year India won independence from British rule.

Hemma high, no nipple for a thing that must
Be put down: dark, darker she grows

In sun, 1947 the year – hard
Is the suckle, Shiva clamps tit.

Only one love rules Santha.
1947. Autonomy. Under the lychee,

Hemma lies: face dried, guzzling
Bhang, sweeter than breast milk,

Bought by Santha to shut
Hemma up. Cloves, cardamom,

Cannabis leaves ground in cow's
Milk. Light wrings the lychee's

Leaves, light whips drupes.
The baby swallows vomit.

A neighbor calls the doctor.
If she dies, she dies.

A farmer stops scything,
Walks away from growth.


Vanesha Pravin’s book, Disorder, will appear in 2015 in the University of Chicago’s Phoenix Poets Series. Her poems have appeared in Slate, Callaloo, and Crab Orchard Review. She is a lecturer at the University of California, Merced where she teaches composition and creative writing.