They Will Sew the Blue Sail

[The street where a certain democratic leader lives] | Mia Ayumi Malhotra

Everywhere the sound of brass tongues breaking against bells and the delicate scent of frangipani. Women with cheeks like acrid moons smeared with yellow paste. Every house shadowed by the heavy gold of the pagoda whose spires spindle into blue. The oily glare of the stupa spreads. A series of unmarked buildings built without windows to make a point of the walls. Inside are women who brush each other’s hair to a fine gloss. Around the front gathers a group of foreigners trying to make a border. Facing the one-way glass they see only their reflection mirrored both ways. Who is behind the door. Possibly they are chained to a bed or being beaten. Possibly they are bent over a washbasin wringing out their hair. In their nostrils lingers the smell of devil’s dung or stinking gum. Fear lengthens to a hallway with no doors. An impossible black that absorbs all light. Looking into its lustrous glaze our likeness warps as though pushed through heavy water. In protest we cross the country. At the border we create an edge and apply a distant pressure. Upon arriving the women’s arms are pinned above their heads like insect specimens on display. Their arches lift through the pretense of cut glass spread across the floor. If the back is a bridge there must be a way to cross it. Arranged in unnatural configurations the body evokes what some call desire and travel long distances to satisfy. Hello you like girls is both a question and a statement. Am I part of this. If this is my body then are these its parts. A bottle breaks on a distant counter making a jagged edge.