Pleocyemata by Tara Tulshyan

Mama said I was born in July, lucky
                enough for a child who was
missing a bellybutton. July – one month

                before ghost month, and one
month after she could no longer harvest
                butong and java plums. She told

me that the day her legs had gone stale,
                she salted her mouth with their
seeds so she could expect a smart child.

                I came out plump instead, arms
tapered into my fingernails that looked
                like dactyls and toes that burst

whenever cradled. My scalp burned
                black — the only lucky
feature mama found where all the fish

                eyes she hollowed and stuck a bone
through was worth it. The aunties said I
                would be prickly, a child with

a mouth where claws grew out from, that
                could not be fed nor rinsed. They
couldn’t nip me into a wife, or pluck a husband

                that could. Mama said I would die
near water, in a glazed shell where my body
                would orange in the heat until dry.

Mama said it was because I was born
                in a month named after a sickness,
where even the hermits bury themselves.

 

Tara Tulshyan is a sophomore currently living in the Philippines. Her works have appeared on or are forthcoming in DIALOGIST, Ilanot Review, and The Temz Review, among several others.

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