Field Studies or The Floating Poem

  1. Field. Filed. Fled.
  2. This is a field of tiny bones, all girls.
  3. Beyond the field is a small pond/river/body of water. Where the mothers take the bonegirls & return alone.
  4. There is an art to drowning.
  5. A field is an open expanse of land—a grave.
  6. First you must submerge the body. Best if head underwater.
  7. A river—a bed of sediment, water & death.
  8. You must be prepared to hold the baby girl asunder & not let go. Do not let go. You must be prepared to fight.
  9. If you return with the girl, he will beat you & then kill you both.
  10. I should not tell you this: survival is not made for two.
  11. The hardest part will not be the water, but carrying your limp bonegirl back to the field.

The Arrangement

On the mango tree, barely above the lovers’ initials, you mark the months of the baby.
Sometimes you still her hunger with sweetened water, other times your finger.

Your father visits with a Sikh man. A brand new suitor. He waves the baby girl away, instead asks after the boy and practices numbers with him. Remarks on his fortitude and intelligent eyes.

On the way back from the lavatory, you overhear the man tell your father that he will take you and the boy but not the girl.

The tree has survived six monsoons and the worst heat this year. You practice leaving, sometimes parting under the shade. Only to return and find her unbothered by your absence.

Your father sends pictures of your new home: glass house and red steel door.

Sometimes you clean blood from her diapers. Still she grows.

She is taken before the last rainstorm. You call two months later to discover she has a new home.

The tree blooms with the biggest blossoms that year.

Girl Country

“Of the 11 million abandoned children, 90% are girls.”
—Times of India

abandon: verb

in Hindi: Chōra dēnā

1.    to cease support or look after (someone); desert

Indian woman delivers,
abandons baby in plane toilet. 2010

“More than half of India’s billion-plus
population is below age 25.”

2.    give up completely

Seven-day-old baby girl left
abandoned in hospital. 2012

“In India, one in six girls
does not live to see her fifteenth

3. (abandon oneself to) allow oneself to indulge in (a desire or impulse)

Father abandons
baby girl on train. 2012.

“India is a dangerous place
to be a woman.”