Uma Menon's poem "Ode to Temple Crowds" appears in Issue No. 51: Consume.
Ode to Temple Crowds
in the damp heat of india my mother wraps the end
of her shawl & tethers it to her waist she holds
out her finger & says here is a lifeline as i tongue at
the strand of saffron lodged between my back teeth
i grab on to her hand our hands clasping each other
as a prayer unfolds beneath her breath & she pulls me
through a sea of sweaty bodies that scent of sacred
incense set ablaze in the cavity of my nose
maybe this is where wildfires begin: with bodies stacked
over each other worshipping the divine but really
each other wading through monsoon season only
to be lodged in the mouth of steam so this is what
it means to pray i say to myself & glance at my mother
her eyes tightly pressed & suddenly saffron comes loose
UMA MENON is a fifteen-year-old student and writer from Winter Park, Florida. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in the Huffington Post, Ms. Magazine, The Rumpus, and IRIS Magazine, among others. Her first chapbook was published with Zoetic Press in January 2019. Uma is the recipient of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Award for her first place poetry in the state of Florida, and she was named the national winner of National Poetry Quarterly’s poetry contest.
More from Issue 51: Consume.
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