I’m certain about my story
as a swan is about its end.
I would have been molding
clay into little dolls
is what generations in my family have done
there in the corner
kneading clay as if it were dough
wet hands, dry hands
blue, green, red, white
paint in cups waits
for little dolls to be dyed into.
To play cricket like my brother
Sew clothes like my mother
Smell wet paint
Jump on water puddles
Soak in summer rain
Strum guitar or sitar
Decision makers struggle to find words
To address the missing girls
Some say it’s a situation, a phenomenon
No one knows what to call it anymore
Like a scary situation when you do
Not know if you should say
“merry Christmas” or “happy holidays”
Some say who cares
Where missing girls are
My girl’s safe
Like the jewelry in safe box
Lined with a bed of cotton balls
That soaks her tears
And no one knows
I would have been named Alice. My people are refugees.
we made Anadaman and Nicobar Islands our home
is like drops in the Indian ocean,
like white pearls on blue sky,
Rita is my sister. She was born in India,
Married at fifteen, mother at sixteen,
She could not go to school after fifth grade.
I did not want to be like my sister Rita
I did not want to quit school
I wanted to fly, taste the air
I wanted to become an Indian Air Force pilot
Instead I live in the sky
I breathe the air.
Manisha Sharma teaches in the department of Sociology at Virginia Tech. She earned an MFA in creative writing from Virginia Tech and graduated from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Her writing has appeared in/on The Common, Greenbelt Review, The Silhouette and ABC Radio, Australia. She has studied poetry with Lucinda Roy, Fred D ‘Aguiar, Jeff Mann, and Erika Meitner.