WRITTEN BY ADITI RAJU
They choose our men from decks of cards.
The cards face down and their faces blind,
we take the hand our fractured stars assigned.
First come the diamonds:
Our worth computed by skin shades and youth,
custom says two cows but if our lying
fathers are blessed, a gold anklet too. Truth
would be too foul. Then they shuffle and draw.
Next come the spades:
They come home from work but work is our home.
As we cook, clean, and pleasure, we dig through
old men’s dreams— assembly line graves to roam
with our grandmas. Then they shuffle and draw.
Most feel the clubs:
Recall when our mothers trained us to cook
before commanded. Dogs, hungry men beat
the deepest. Eyes extinguished, bodies shook,
our hair strangled. Then they shuffle and draw.
We never feel the hearts:
Outside our own, we hear no other beat.
From fear, from work, from golden wheat milk (at
sunrise), but not from love, our rhythm keeps
unbroken, so still they shuffle and draw.
Back to this cyclical game they designed—
they draw, shuffle, draw until we leave behind
our daughters to be governed by their deck of cards.