The Woman Whose Skin Washed Yellow



It was jaundice that killed her, said father,
from drinking contaminated water in July,
when the heat was worst.
Now she lay cold on a block on ice
waiting to be bathed, then buried.

The power grid failed again this year
in Northern India, leaving our parents
fanning sweat with jute fans and women
sitting in noon heat taking turns
to bathe her, braiding dark hair into plaits
that shone in the sun and swatting flies off
weathered faces that waited for sunset.

The water ran yellow as cold rivulets flowing
downslope where we drew sunflowers in it
with twigs, leaving dust rimmed skeletons.
We whispered rumors heard of the waterman
at the corner, who sold ice-water, hosing
and chipping monoliths that the bodies lay on
for ice and we stared with parched mouths
at irregular cubes floating in the water.
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Submitted on May 01, 2011

Modified on March 05, 2023

42 sec read
1

Quick analysis:

Scheme AXXXX XXBXXXX CXXBCXXA
Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 787
Words 141
Stanzas 3
Stanza Lengths 5, 7, 8

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