Triumph XXI: Atman

by Shweta Narayan

I don't know how to wear a human skin
as if it fits. The shape is wrong. I shed 
in patches, parchment dry and paper thin
and scribed with scratched-in tales the swollen red
of civil war. My shoulders are one knot
where hollow bones and feathers try to grow
as if, when I can barely lift my head
I'll somehow leap and leave the ground below 
if only I'd sprout wings. Ha, no. My cane
hits broken glass. No serpent's tail will aid
my balance — you can't shapeshift out of pain —
but screw your pity. Tragic's overplayed.
I'll dance my own way, awkward, out of breath
and fly in dreams, and laugh at lady death.

Shweta Narayan says, "I'm a shifter, as anyone who hears me speak must know; partly because I've lived in India, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, and California (so far). My gender, like so many aspects of my self, is set to 'it's complicated'.

"My poetry lurks in places like Strange Horizons, Mythic Delirium, and Jabberwocky, and my stories in the Nebula Awards Showcase Anthology 2012, Bloodchildren: Stories by the Octavia E. Butler Scholars, and We See A Different Frontier. I can sometimes be found online here."

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