Follow Suit

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.

Aditi Raju is a 17-year-old living in California's Bay Area. Her work has been recognized by the National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the Live Poets Society of New Jersey, PTSA Reflections, and the National It's All Write Teen Writing Contest. When not writing, she enjoys designing logos, listening to film scores, and defending Oxford commas.