Today's poem is by Glenn Shea


Older girls mostly and some young women,
but a few little gigglers too, among the solemn
faces of the poor. Barrettes and bracelets, their best
smocks and jeans, lined up by the city hall,

a bird-bright sari here and there. Nakushi,
the first girl is named, I find out, and
Nakushi, the second and third, and Nakushi
the seventeenth and sixtieth and ninety-third to

the two hundred and twenty-second Nakushi
around the corner by the paper shop.
Unwanted, the name means in Marathi, which
means in plain English they were just girls,

not boys, dragging up the tail end
of too many births, dowries required now
to get rid of them, mouths for the food
you didn't have, so many more useless wombs.

But at Satara today they could change their names
if not their genders. At the official district ceremony
they could come away with the gleam of a new
certificate naming them a goddess or a star.

Nakushi went in and came out Aishwarya,
like the actress; Nakushi two came out with
the enhaloing name of Savitri, like the
Hindi goddess, to be followed by once-Nakushi,

now Vaishali, who is beautiful and good.
My favorite is fifteen year old Nakushi,
who chooses to be Ashmita, which in Hindi
is "tough" or "rock hard." I wonder

what safety their names will be to them
but just for now and for who knows how long a moment
they are new-made, with a certificate to show it.
Wear your names well, I can wish them. Ashmita: rock hard.

Copyright © 2017 Glenn Shea All rights reserved
from Find A Place That Could Pass For Home
Salmon Poetry
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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