Vandana Khanna

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Vandana Khanna

[The suitors play make believe]

The suitors play make believe, dream me up
wondrous and willing—with lace at my throat,
gold between my legs. A paper-thin myth, each
one calls wife behind my back. I learned to
swim with my leg’s thin tread of hope. I learned
to sin(k) kohl-eyed in a pool of slim chances.
You showed me how to come up for air, breathless
and sweat-soaked. Couldn’t wear white after that.
Couldn’t find my way back to that girl a decade
in the making, lying in wait, half-grown away
from the sea. My barely-there prayers made
of broken shells and sharks’ teeth, a prophecy
of how I could wreck everything in my path.
Let them wade in after me, let them beg
with their last breaths while I show you
where the half-wound of my heart is hidden.


Vandana Khanna reads “[The suitors play make believe]”

Vandana Khanna’s third collection of poems is forthcoming from Alice James Books in 2023. Her previous two books have won the Crab Orchard Review First Book Prize and The Miller Williams Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in publications such as the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, The New Republic, and New England Review. She is a poetry editor at the Los Angeles Review.