by Shweta Narayan

I. Among the Seelie

She sings the orphaned river's plaint
to monsoon winds and thunderhead mothers
and they laugh.
Their songs have tones tones semitones
and different seasons.

Like you stepped on a cat

She slices her tongue in half to sing
their tones tones semitones
hides with them from cars and church bells
sheds sandalwood for oak
plants silence

Serve your betters

She runs to Sidhe arms thorn-strong petal-soft
and white
To clear-brook music that quenches enchants
envelops her

He finds her exotic.

II. Among the Devas

She sings in tones tones semitones,
dances different rhythms
and they laugh

Their tongues are broken in foreign or what?

She weeps for captive djinni
naked begging stark-eyed children
and the Taj.
Her grief rimes the court with salt and silence.

You don't like it here?
Then go.

She learns again the taste of amrit
more bitter than her memory
and monsoon's first warm tears
more sweet

III. Exile

Where Kitsune and Anansi
are strangers together
she is not strange

She can wear eucalyptus redwood coconut
sing in tones tones ragas
She can -- takita taka dhimi --

But when monsoon is a memory
and dust wind dries her voice away
she listens
for Coyote's sobbing giggle

And he laughs.

Shweta Narayan says: I'm something of a cultural crazy-quilt; I was born in India and lived in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, and Scotland before moving to California. Partly as a result, I have too many favourite fruits to list -- but right now I particularly miss chiku (sapodilla), and the monsoon rain that used to batter at the windows while I ate it.

This is my second appearance in Goblin Fruit. I also have poetry in Coyote Wild and short stories in Strange Horizons and the Journal of Mythic Arts, and forthcoming in The Beastly Bride anthology. I attended Clarion 2007, for which I received the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship.

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