By Savithri Rajeevan

Your body looks like an
ancient wall painting,
burnt and peeled off :
the mirror told her.
There is light in the pink
and pale brown, and shade
in the bluish blister.
Which country’s secret picture-code
has been painted on you –
Altamira, Egypt, Greco-Roman,
could be of any land,
so ancient is your body,
thin, peeled off.

A deer writhes on a spear
behind your scaly palm
and on your shoulder, a wild buffalo,
grey, shot down by an arrow.
Don’t erase them: researchers
will need to discover them in future.
That Greek beauty on your thigh,
filling her basket with flowers:
her arms reach your knee
her fingers holding a pale white flower.
She wants nothing
short of a bison to ride,
that pitch black beast
bellowing on your breast.
Nourish it with grass and hay:
don’t undo it with your steroids.

Stand straight, don’t bend,
the mirror told her.
Let your arms dangle in front,
but tilt your face a little.
Chest, belly, the whole brownish trunk,
let all of them face me.
But tilt the legs and the feet a little.
If you can, look at me
with both your eyes.
Keep close to the wall.
Now this is no more your body,
its skin peeled off:
you have turned into a painting,
a pre-historic mural.

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