By Shweta Narayan

System error, Devi says
soft as incense
ash.
Titanium arms
(red with reflected silk
turmeric-daubed brass
gears machine oil slick, anointed
with drops of sesame)
still
empty
of blessing.

Another child tugs
on a gold-edged sari, points high
at the bell

Father tends the smoking fire, the chants
camphor.  I know software. He believes
in cell phones, supplicants,
learning.
— Mine.  How do I tell him I searched
her code, found
a lexicon
and blank eternity?

I lift the child
from his mother’s shaking
hands.  The brass bell
reflects us monstrous.
He pushes
giggles at the clang, coughs
blood.

Devi’s kohl-lined camera eyes whirr,
focus.  System,
she tells me,
Error.


More from Shweta Narayan:

Shweta Narayan was smelted in India’s summer, quenched in the monsoon, wound up on words in Malaysia, and pointed westwards. She surfaced in Saudi Arabia, The Netherlands, and Scotland before settling in California, where she lives on language, veggie tacos, and the internet (at shwetanarayan.org). Ghosha is (indirectly) inspired by the priest whose pager went off during her grandmother’s funeral ceremony.

Shweta’s poetry has recently appeared or is forthcoming in places like Stone Telling, Mythic Delirium, and Jabberwocky, and her stories in Realms of Fantasy and the anthology Clockwork Phoenix 3. She was the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship recipient at the 2007 Clarion workshop.

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