A sample from my upcoming book of poetry, The Girl In The Painting is a poem about womanhood and how its stories are co-opted by other voices. Stay tuned for more information about my first published book of poetry.
Written by Aarushi Ahluwalia
On a dirt road she walks with bare feet,
under the orange hues of abating heat,
and beside her walk a group of others,
an army of sisters, friends or mothers.
Her laugh frozen upon a fading canvas,
perhaps extracted by a rustic cuss,
or a joke that would no longer evoke joy,
as I watch her on the frame labelled ‘toy’.
A pot of water is balanced on her head,
covered with a cloth so bright and red.
Beside me the experts say they can see,
how she found happiness in captivity,
in a moment from a life never lived,
they say they can see what women hid.
They say she was a victim of circumstance,
and to a man’s tune she was destined to dance,
and her world that we painted was broken,
and all the beauty was but a mere token.
They say they can see a story so immense,
but all I see is a woman’s continuing silence,
where we watch with the eyes of a sniper,
and with assurance continue speaking for her.
We imagine her life and her constant pain,
call it art so it passes unsuspicious, our gain,
while we hush the girl beside us with ease,
as she begs for her pain to be heard please.
As I watch the woman hanging on the wall,
I hear from behind me a beckoning call,
and turn to have the lights flash in my eye,
and the child in my arms begins to cry.
I say I didn’t want to have that taken,
but like the painted woman I am shaken,
and my words they don’t want to hear,
my story they must package and share,
so I can hang somewhere else muted,
I wonder what they someday will see,
in that picture they just took of me.