Merion Estes, “Smithereens” (2012), fabric collage and acrylic paint on printed fabric (Collection of Kelly Boyer, photo by Matt Kazmer, work currently featured in Merion Estes: Unnatural Disasters at the Craft & Folk Art Museum (CAFAM) in Los Angeles)

Origin Story

there are no Hindu deities in this poem / no goddesses that slay / stay within this poem.

there are no spices / named / after color / or skin or color / of skin

I do not wear / a saree in this / poem & when / I do/ cloth means cloth not

what you or I want it to / I will try / not / to switch / tongues or speak / with footnotes where

you’ll find / yourself  / in my land / there is no land / that is mine that was / mine

to begin / with / in this poemif I do bring / up this religion we try / so hard to forgive

I could tell / you like most / our humans beget / a violence / so sharp we didn’t touch

our selves for years / when we did / we called it by another: / love & law but not history

because there is no / history in this poem / that hasn’t been rewritten first / or named the future

there were those / who caste / hate / & those who say / they never agreed on the rules

but  we all watered / this fallow anyway / there are no Hindus in this poem

nor those / like me / fleeing from this word / Hindu  who didn’t grow

out of this / crop we petal / the past everyday—our stomachs swollen / with blood

& ash & stolen feed / this poem will try to tell you we did what we did to exist / but the truth is

Like most / our humans beget a violence sharp / so we would rule

*   *   *

Sreshtha Sen is a poet from Delhi, India and one of the founding editors of The Shoreline Review, an online journal for & by south Asian poets. She studied English Literature at Delhi University and completed her MFA at Sarah Lawrence College. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in Breakwater Review, BOAAT, Bitch Media, MACK, Meridian, The Margins, and won an Amy Award in 2017. She was the 2017–18 McCrindle Foundations Fellow at Poets & Writers and currently lives and teaches in Las Vegas where she’s completing her PhD in English and Creative Writing.

Readers are encouraged to submit 3–5 poems as a PDF to Wendy Xu for consideration at

Wendy Xu is the author of the poetry collections Phrasis (Fence, 2017), winner of the 2016 Ottoline Prize, and You Are Not Dead (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2013). The recipient...