Clean up after you give birth – and don’t forget your mask

Countercurrents Clean up afteryou give birth

One

They named him Corona, it is not
uncommon for babies to be named
after special events, or characters in
history.
But that is not the point.

Two

One assumes giving birth is essential
to the continuity of life, but birthing

On footpaths?
At roadsides?
Under flyovers?

How else does one
define apocalypse?

Three

These women, many, too many
in indignity. deliver. daily. dutifully
do not stop, cannot stop the exodus
from cities. yet labor takes over and
left behind are precarious memories
expelled in tissue fragments, serving
to commemorate a collective failure

Four

with every push she offers a prayer
an accusation, a commemoration
a realization of inequity, of passing
as in Ashoka’s1 last battle, our Kalinga’s2
confronted with gore, an open sore
of putridity, discarded placentas, and
a dead baby swaddled
in her only saree
dispelled—
dehumanized.

Five

and then there was an army, her army
they swarmed her with their bodies
they sang to keep her pushing, push.
forget. push. a baby is born, dawn
into the nights that were still left
to walk and walk and walk before
they could walk into forgetfulness
the baby suckles at a futile breast
then at many breasts—
offered purposefully

Six

Often, we call this country
of 1.5 billion people, Mother India.
She has been abandoned.
Seen writhing in burdens.
Left to bleed. Then clean it up herself—
she will
incarnate soon—
she will be Kali3

  1. Ashoka – Ashoka, also known as Ashoka the Great, was an Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty, who ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from c. 268 to 232 BCE. He became a patron of Buddhism after the bloody battle of Kalinga.
  2. Kalinga – This is also known as the war that turned India towards Buddhism. Ashoka was successful in conquering Kalinga but the consequences of the savagery changed Ashoka’s views on war and led him to pledge to never again wage a war of conquest.
  3. Kali – Kali is the symbol of female energy, and nature – therefore representing time and both the destructive and benevolent aspects of nature and energy.

Kashiana Singh is a management professional by job classification and a work practitioner by personal preference. Kashiana’s TEDx talk was dedicated to Work as Worship. Her poetry collection, Shelling Peanuts and Stringing Words presents her voice as a participant and an observer. Her second chapbook  Crushed Anthills by Yavanika Press is a journey through 10 cities – each city offering a complex maze of remembrances to unravel. Her poems have been published on various platforms including Poets Reading the News, Visual Verse Oddball Magazine, Café Dissensus, TurnPike Magazine, Dissident Voice, Feminine Collective, Counter-Currents, Poetry Super Highway. Kashiana is from India and now lives in Chicago.


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