by Shweta Narayan

and when we dance in that ocean between schools of stars
when we sleep entwined with that great serpent
star-hooded, uncoiling time,
dark matter his tail, dark river-basin hair
his nest, will you call us
paint us
many-breasted, always
to your gaze woman.  No, listen,
you see only what you paint.  my sisterbrothers
are river children, women with beards, today, snakes
with hair in foam-tipped waves, men
with breasts, eyes lined
in blue-shifted kohl, today.
I'm neither, lung-bare in your sky
tonight, with sixteen fingers speaking, and Sheshan
loves us all.  When we dance, gem-stars nest
in our hair, burn old brittle skin to ash,
and we change.

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 at my Livejournal.

" When asked by a hapless editor about which poem of hers she'd like to hear set to what kind of music, she replied as follows:

"As You Know, Amal, I've already set one of my poems to music: 'The Bone Harp Sings Nine Moods,' found in these very pages. Each section is named after a raga, and written to evoke that raga's mood; the spoken version of the poem is accompanied by improvisational pieces in each ragas, sung by Sangeetha Ayyar of Sydney, Australia.

What you might not know is that I've had another Goblin Fruit poem set to music: The wonderful Emily Jiang set my poem 'The bears are working' to choral music."

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