Empire of Hunger

I hate the Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly
religion. The famine was their own fault for breeding like rabbits.
—Winston Churchill

They stole our harvest in steamers, love —
smiled tight at the ribs jutting out from our skin
like the wind rose on a pirate treasure map.
For twelve months we watched our city shrink
under stumbling feet as we tried to coax
kindness from men who lined their pockets with
our suffering. Babus in borrowed shoes and speech
siphoned every morsel to our name
to pay the piper of white greed.
I often wonder what secret Gods must
whisper to their wives as they
strain the foam from rice down our throats
in a belated peace offering. This high they stacked
our fallen friends down river banks we
raced around in better years on makeshift wheels.
You have to pinch your nose just right
or the stench can make you heave before
the fire in your hollow belly will. Most days
are a test to stay upright, but when the final plea
for a quiver of rain dwindles to dust at our blistered feet,
perhaps our spines will bow to greet
the stream of cherry blood kissing the street —
it is our only shot at making history.



Yashodhara Trivedi is from Kolkata and works in Delhi, India, as an international student recruitment manager. She holds an MA in English from Durham University. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Knight’s Library Magazine, The Sunlight Press, The Rising Phoenix Review, and elsewhere. She goes by @poetrynerd on Twitter.