Preeti Vangani is the author of the poetry collection, Mother Tongue Apologize (RLFPA Editions, 2019), winner of the RL India Poetry Prize. Her work has been published in The Threepenny Review, Gulf Coast, and Cortland Review, among other places. A graduate of University of San Francisco's MFA Program, Preeti has received fellowships and support from Djerrasi, UCross, Tin House, Napa Valley Writers' Conference, Pen America, and the California Center for Cultural Innovation. She currently teaches in the MFA (Writing) program at University of San Francisco.
My Gone Mother Wants Me to Love Thyself, Says,
So your oldest friend turned out
to be a Republican. Isn’t it great
you two didn’t fudge? No, you don’t
look like a puffed up bag of chips
in that dress. Listen, a sparrow cheeps
at the kitchen window. Short buzz,
long trill. The frill of your nightie
swishing against mine at nap time.
Your skin is so oily, how’s America
not fracking on your T-zone? I am
packing multani mitti in your bag,
a walnut scrub, honey with cinnamon
and have you tried praying? God
is an easy customer. I wish you said
i love you to me as you did to the boys
in college. Is this what we gave you
freedom for, HPV? Nothing apple
cider vinegar can’t cure. When
your nani died, I was back to cooking
dinner the same night. Dal, chawal,
crispy aloo, phulka. Your father gave
me no option. I liked Varun,
why did you leave him?
Are you ever happy? You’ll find
a Mills and Boon in my side drawer.
Go to page 71:“Where’s that unicorn
you promised me?”asks Miranda.
“Oh wait, never mind,
I can feel it in your trousers.”
If you don’t finish your beer,
use it as hair conditioner.
If you can’t find alcohol, spit
on the wound. Marriage means
sacrifice. Your father’s heart attack
is not your fault. Cigarettes
are healthy for bad marriages.
Take care of your teeth. I found you.
I found you on a Thursday in the rain,
water gushing in and out of your
gumboots, I held you up by the waist
and did not let go until I lay you
in the room where I sang and waited
and sang. Sorry I fell asleep.
If God Is My Gone Mother's Doctor, She Is Fucking Furious
What Bodies Do
Overnight workers refurbish gardens
into makeshift crematoriums in New Delhi.
Breath is a commodity now, it always has been,
but now it’s in the shops. Those who can, bag
oxygen cylinders over the black market. Between
daily run and daily grief, I lower my mask
over a rat lying ready as a soldier
by a patch of peonies, dead with eyes open,
fur fresh and responsive to wind, heathering
its dome. I’ll take anything to think better of death.
Kneller’s Happy Campers, for instance, a book
that imagines an exclusive heaven for beings
who kill themselves. Revel in the chorus of Maamu,
Maamu, you’re killing us, how we cousins, bundled
in a minivan would scream with joy getting dizzy
as our uncle rollercoaster-ed us, spinning donuts
in the parkway after late night drives for pista badam kulfi.
His body found breathless within that sweet circle
in a shape nobody wants to remember. His steel watch,
intact. Ticking. What six floors, cyclical debt
and one unfenced jump will do to a man
who religiously bought us a dozen overpriced
opening-night movie tickets. The teaser more promising
than the film. The will to keep running, the teaser.