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Draupadi Speaks

What I want / is to be unspooled from my navel until / not even my body can keep me. Wildened to morsels / of mortal sound, I crave only the crown of being unseen.

Poetry
February 4, 2020

But Dussasana, dragging Draupadi forcibly by her black locks while she prayed pitifully, said to her—‘Whether your monthly blood has or hasn’t come, whether you are clothed in one piece of cloth or entirely naked, when you have been won at dice… your life as a woman will be as a servant.”

– Mahabharata, Rajadharmanusasana Parva, Section 66

 

The last word in my stomach tastes like please, but isn’t. How else to pray
but in words I do not know? Already I have been unsyllabled

with no one watching, the sinew of my ​yes ​frayed
into so many threads. Of course I unfastened my lungs.

I unfasten them again. Listen– I did not beg
for anything. History keeps only what fear gambles

as holy. Tell someone I found no god to swallow
or retongue me. My head made sudden into his fist’s chariot,

spinning became the only language left to knot into new air.
Tell them there’s no miracle in clothing that won’t come off. What I want

is to be unspooled from my navel until
not even my body can keep me. Wildened to morsels

of mortal sound, I crave only the crown of being unseen.
I reinvented my scalp with his blood to learn a different blood.

Call me a girl again– I want to forget everything. Even now,
on a warless day I hear the swords and their siblings on the streets

singing in a language I cannot sing back,
warning each other that men have hands.