Girls are coming out of the Woods

Girls are coming out of the woods,
wrapped in cloaks and hoods,
carrying iron bars and candles 
and a multitude of scars, collected
on acres of premature grass and city
buses, in temples and bars. Girls
are coming out of the woods
with panties tied around their lips,
making such a noise, it’s impossible
to hear. Is the world speaking too?
Is it really asking, What does it mean 
to give someone a proper resting?
Girls are
coming out of the woods, lifting
their broken legs high, leaking secrets
from unfastened thighs, all the lies
whispered by strangers and swimming
coaches, and uncles, especially uncles,
who said spreading would be light
and easy, who put bullets in their chests
and fed their pretty faces to fire,
who sucked the mud clean 
        off their ribs, and decorated 
their coffins with brier. Girls are coming
out of the woods, clearing the ground
to scatter their stories. Even those girls
found naked in ditches and wells,
those forgotten in neglected attics,
and buried in river beds like sediments
from a different century. They’ve crawled
their way out from behind curtains
of childhood, the silver-pink weight 
of their bodies pushing against water,
against the sad, feathered tarnish 
of remembrance. Girls are coming out
of the woods the way birds arrive
at morning windows – pecking 
and humming, until all you can hear
is the smash of their miniscule hearts
against glass, the bright desperation
of sound – bashing, disappearing.
Girls are coming out of the woods.
They’re coming. They’re coming.


Tishani Doshi is an award-winning writer and dancer of Welsh-Gujarati descent. She is the author of four books of poetry and fiction. Since 2001 she has worked as the lead dancer with the Chandralekha troupe in Madras. Currently she divides her time between Tamil Nadu and elsewhere.

While government watches you, who watches the government?