Divya Persaud

kala pani

consorting in the kala pani
a sea snake ruptured against
the insides of the selachii
cuts her tail into their guts, whence

spill their finite utterings: she,
stretched among three, collects
these words of her brine suspects
and rebuilds herself from the sea-

water that envelops their entrails—
shark shattered upon shark, froth
rots their cage-bones; uncaught,
darkness welcomes her slick sails.

she and it devour each other—devour—
as the sharp-things do cower

a provocation

sorrel coat my throat in blood—
                hibiscan, wretched, teeth-cut red;
the angle of a pupil bred
                in venal entanglement, floral

against my tongue, in these eyes;
                drop this in the sea and watch it turn,
frustrated in the bodies’ churn
                to chew those bones so sentenced—

shut my irises from that star’s light-show
                and let a tracheal tsunami break
and let it rake blood and bone, slow
                and let it cut, and let it grow;

and see this flower in my sight
                and see this crimson flutter here
and see her blossom from my fear
                and watch the sun impart the night

on these my eyes, red—
                in this my throat, red—
unto this my blood, red—
                for these teeth, so red

Demerara yields to no country in the world (based on Wanderings in South America by Charles Waterton)

a wave might resign
              into a lagoon

              refract
into itself

out from itself
              a river

              meeting an
ocean

algal gauze

wrapped around
              its feet

              upturned and
browned

in the
              sun.

a bee procured about a clump of several species of nightshades, which were flowering in thinned-out jungle (based on Bees from British Guiana by T.D.A.
Cockerell)

a hummingbird with black eyes
meets those surfaces with mine—

cracks my integumental dome,
reaches into my purple-tinted thorax

              through this heart-chest
              through this star-shard-laden

heat; a tongue which extends
not beyond my abdomen—struck

              silent in the salted air brought
              on those wings from the sea—

a banded abdomen, a fuliginous
flurry, the sound of this

              extreme apex, snapping, dusky:
              integument of clypeus black

the heat of the water (based on Up the Mazaruni for Diamonds by William La Varre)

you drop a pearl from your palm
              into my depth; the sun-caught
fish-things dash away and let

it through. Rests its head on a
              blackened pillow. Tosses and
turns; lifts for a moment, then

rests once more. You are always
              giving me strange gifts. This
one doesn’t know where it is.

I see it flinching still at the
              heat of the water. Open a
mouth wide, close it, open,

looking for something from that
              undarkened skin that rests
atop me—gulping, in the meantime,

unsure whether it drinks from
              the fires of Phaeton or the
milk of the wide, kind Lethe—

it matters not. A scorch and a
              forgotten scale of memory look
the same in the lacquer of a

pearl. I know a portage must
              be made, and I pull together
tree bones and send the

pearl on its way, downriver,
              where it might wash up on
              the mangroves, and still.

Divya M. Persaud is a writer, composer, and planetary scientist of Indo-Caribbean heritage from New Jersey. She is the recipient of The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective Editor’s Choice Award for her experimental book of poetry, do not perform this (GIPC, 2019), and the author of poetry collections color (2016) and de caelo et tellure (2015). Her poems have appeared in The Deaf Poets Society as well as The Aerogram. Divya is additionally the composer of THEY WILL BE FREE: a song cycle (2017), an album that fuses epic poetry and contemporary classical music. Divya is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in planetary imaging in the United Kingdom.