Triumph XIII: Chaaya

by Shweta Narayan

The path lies bare. The tunnel gapes ahead.
The bird who guides all ways is flown within.
And all I need to do is shed this skin
to cross back from the kingdom of the dead.
My rooted feet can't rouse themselves. I'm numb,
exhausted, taking on the dank land's grime —
although I've walked these paths before. This time
I can't quite bear to lose who I'd become.
I didn't get to choose. Just found us here.
So do I leave? Allow that she is dead
not knowing who I'll get to be instead
— or will resentment lock me in, and fear?

Change happens either way. So, take the pain,
or never see the sunlit lands again?

Shweta Narayan says: "I've lived in India, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, California, and, lately, in the land of the (mostly) dead. 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."

When asked to name which fantasy government she would choose to live under given the choice, Shweta replied as follows: "none of them. Fantasy governments are great for the privileged. People who look like me generally get Wise Advisor Who Dies status at best; and probably my lack of gender conformity means I can't even land that role. In any case, what fantasy world is kind to someone who can't get out of bed without medication? I'll stay right here, thanks, for all the problems it's got."

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