Mia Ayumi Malhotra

A History of Isako

Isako is lady hold hand to chest one morning say chotto chotto dizzy. Is lady short of breath which draws through straw with chewed out bottom. Something tingly. Is lady scratch in front of mirror chotto itchy right around tummy. Is lady who looks on the internet for signs clicks through the stages 1 2 3 and finally 4. Whose heart muddies. Is told not likely no we don’t believe so. Is lady fit knife in base of belly pull fish open and filet. Is lady point to suji say all this no good see this and this too. Is lady pare meat away. Is filled with lesions doctors don't see at first. Is lady lie in bed organs pulled from chest cavity heart lungs and kidney. Is lady pressed to feathers on a shiny black background. A mass the size of a child’s fist. Is lady branch to smaller and smaller divisions which become microscopic then end in clusters of alveoli. Is lady emptied. Is lady lie in bed think dear god dear god

[The street where women are marked]

The street where women are marked and made to stand in a line which becomes a border. Border: an edge, a fixed line that cannot be crossed though the body is flexible and made to perform unnatural acts. Standing there every body tells itself: I is invisible. I does not exist. Every body a ragged edge that tells itself there is no tear before passing into the invisible. Labia. Lips. Bodies fluoresce in blacklight. Visible but not. Am I a part of this. If I am a body then are these its parts. The white of a woman’s underpants. Ping-pong ball. Crotch. In the street a woman calls out but there is a blank where her mouth should be.

Mia Ayumi Malhotra

Mia Ayumi Malhotra lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, and her poems have appeared in Greensboro Review, Best New Poets, DIAGRAM, Asian American Literary Review, and elsewhere. She is a Kundiman Fellow and has been a finalist for the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award, the Benjamin Saltman Award, and the Kundiman Poetry Prize.