Prerna Bakshi is a poet, writer and research scholar of Indian origin from Sydney, Australia. Her work has previously been published in over two dozen journals and magazines, most recently in Grey Sparrow Journal, Silver Birch Press, Wilderness House Literary Review, Kabul Press, Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature and South Asian Ensemble: A Canadian Quarterly of Literature, Arts and Culture. Her full-length poetry collection, Burnt Rotis, With Love, is forthcoming from Les Éditions du Zaporogue. She tweets at @bprerna.


The death train

You’re all grown up now.
Don’t jump around too much
out in the open.
A girl gets told
as she plays hop scotch.
You have grown breasts now.
They bounce up and down.
What if anyone sees?

I’ve been told rubbing
this oil helps.
It works like magic.
A girl gets told
as she gets used as a guinea pig
for virtually every ‘home remedy’
under the sun.
Don’t wear this dress.
It will attract the eyes to your weak spot.
You have such small breasts.
I worry who will marry you?

They are either too large
or too small.
Too saggy
or too perky.

They either bounce too much
or not at all.
Too this, too that — never right.
Never satisfactory enough.

Except on that day when it didn’t matter
how women’s breasts looked.
How big they were
or how small.
They were just right.
Just the right size.
The right shape.
The right shade.
The right kind of breasts
on the right kind of women.
The chosen women.

Women who were handpicked,
lined up,
one by one,
had their breasts chopped off;
blood gushing all over the jam-packed
train carrying refugees;
women bleeding
slowly to death.

Their breasts, finally,
finally — the right size
for being cut into pieces.