Author: Kavitha Rath

Pubic health and poetry, but not public health poetry… yet.


Nagini by the shore

Queen amidst the rocks,
underwater companion of the sea,
blue silk-skinned and breathless,
she crouches forward.

She descends, a serene siren,
winding in her trance-like dance
to touch a human life, break a heart,
consume another.

In the waters, icy and beholden,
the people traipse unaware,
The passengers and fisher folk miss her,
blended with the the green sapphire forest
and she retracts to her mossy home.

She steals a piece of you from the ocean floor,
Her lips redden like peppers on a sun-baked terrace,
as she sells her elixir of immortality.

The promise dismissed in haste by most,
except for one would-be king,
who shaded her from the sun-glare
to stop the heat from melting her scales.

Serpentine she seems, every Saturday,
her secret exposed to her loved one,
as she bathes in the tide pools.
Gliding on the stones,
he doesn’t know she can only stay a while.

Her lashes shut, and she’s on the go
in bird-like transformation, a missing link,
legs transforming to tail,
the crown tilting heavily against her head.

I saw my friend, wrapped in gold and pink,
on the Ides of March,
slumbering in a halo of silk,
her honeyed skin smooth and sea-salt pure.

As if youth, beauty, and devotion
could escape the Hindu and Jain mourners,
adorned in white, and chanting mantras.
Her husband, a doctor who wrote music,
played a shivering Pink Floyd-style lament
in eerie disassociation.

At the end of the receiving line,
petals through tears,
I wondered why her hair was light brown tinged with blond
–It was supposed to be black.

I kneeled at her mother’s feet,
a pool of silk jade,
Devi and Demeter, suddenly white-haired,
she held my hand tight
–What part of the world would receive her daughter upon return?

Once there was apple-flavored Chardonnay
at the market in Rittenhouse Square.
Today, the revelers of Saint Patrick,
juxtaposed the lanes
in a sea of inebriated green and clover,
celebrating their martyr as I swam past.

In the dark-water night,
She rose from the breath
of our Lord Creator,
rows of teeth
lining her open, sangria mouth–
glinty, pearlized white

with which to eat diamond-encrusted
watches, no worries,
she has another she gifted herself
inside her leather tote, of course
it is new, it cost a small drop of fortune.

You have left her
to this rough fate,
she people watches
on the sun-showered streets,
taps impatiently
with swatches of ruby glamor.

She thinks about her next devour
teeth sharp as her red-backed heels,
justified to you after all,
since an item of her clothing
never exceeds five-hundred dollars.

You have made her this way.
Once she thought outside of herself,
now she just wants

the next kill, thread counts
surpassing one-thousand.
Deep wine, her mottled love —
this desire is easy as it is lazy.

The entourage swoons
and she feeds them chalky compliments,
tells them every sea or hill she visits
is the most beautiful sight in the world,
because you have seen her posed lacquer,
fangs-wide, mouth open, in smiles.