Vandana Khanna was born in New Delhi, India and received her M.F.A. from Indiana University. Her first book, Train to Agra, won the Crab Orchard Review First Book Prize and her second collection, Afternoon Masala, was the co-winner of the 2014 Miller Williams Arkansas Poetry Prize.
How easy to be left for damsel. When a girl
can lie unseen in a forest for days, on a bed
of thick needles and not get pricked. Hold
time in place under her tongue, hold the last
flower of air in her chest to see what will happen —
what will bloom and wilt. When a girl can dream
and not be frightened of the years ahead of her
yet to be lived, alone in myrtle and moss.
When she can see the animal’s teeth for its shine
and not for the bite, the hurt it leaves on her.
The crows mournful at the mouth of the cave
she reads as a sign of leaving: the world empty
of her. She of clipped wings, glistening with drama,
so pretty to look at, so stiff with misuse.