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Photo by Jonathan Self

Poet, novelist, and dancer Tishani Doshi was born in Madras, India, to Welsh and Gujarati parents. She is the author of six books of poetry and fiction, and has been honored with an Eric Gregory Award and an All-India Poetry Prize. Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods was published by HarperCollins in South Asia, Bloodaxe Books, Ltd. in the United Kingdom, and Copper Canyon Press in the United States. Doshi lives with her husband and dogs on a beach in Tamil Nadu, India.

 

Considering Motherhood While Falling Off a Ladder in Rome

In the Via della Scala in Rome,

in one of those apartments

tourists dream of owning,

I walked down a ladder

in my underwear,

with a bottle in one hand

and an apple in the other.

And when I fell,

it was with turbulence,

with knowledge,

that every rib of shame

would smash against the floor,

that ambivalence was primeval.

Later, when we walked

across the Tiber to bring

your son home from school,

we paused to watch birds

in the sky—starlings

in the thousands.

And I could not explain

that it was the beating

of their wings,

the murmurations,

that were a kind of drowning.

That I too would chew

at the bark

of life, if it would

bequeath me fire.

It was November,

the season of death,

and the river moved darkly

between her banks,