In LeapingLeave a comment
April 2, 2023 by The Citron Review
by Mandira Pattnaik
Sometimes, standing before the mirror, Leia would say she felt like a grasshopper. Say this to herself while the toddlers slept.
Unlike the meadows back home, her floor is ash-ridden, and her antennae reaches out to the neighbor’s window, but they can’t see or hear her. If they cared to ask, if ever, Leia would say she leaves behind children, too hungry, too clipped to find out what she does, disappearing every morning, before daybreak, and if she brings them food, the windows make a rattling sound because the kids shout in such joy.
I know, she says softly, on the night before Sunday, and disconnects the call from a distant relative in a faraway land; the harvest done, so her people have made a little money to put through a call to her, and say they are worried about her. Ask, when she’ll come back, though secretly they hope she never does, they can’t afford more mouths.
Leia wraps her hands over her thin grasshopper legs, she can’t sleep, remains in sitting position all through the night, feels hungry, thinks if she had ears in the abdomen, like a grasshopper’s, would they turn deaf because her stomach’s always grumbling? Maybe it’ll take stronger springs in her hind legs to catapult her, more distorted thinking, to forget Sundays are weekly paydays, and the night before is when all provisions are exhausted. It’ll take still longer to finally fly.
Sometimes, in leaping, endlessly, she forgets she has wings.
Mandira Pattnaik is the author of collections Anatomy of a Storm-Weathered Quaint Townspeople (2022, Fahmidan, Poetry), Girls Who Don’t Cry (2023, ABP, Flash) and Where We Set Our Easel (forthcoming May, 2023, Stanchion Publishing, Novella). Mandira’s work has appeared in The McNeese Review, Penn Review, Quarterly West, Passages North, DASH, Miracle Monocle, Timber, Contrary, Watershed Review and QAE, among others. Visit her at mandirapattnaik.com