Little are-you-there,

seen-through body  touched by a pulse so faint

       it’s a glow about the chest

                   are you there?

I’ve a sadness I say

           a callous nest of ligament

      in the scooped-out shallow

             of my hipbone.

               A sadness

little rows of buttons     pressed powder faces

      —lines for noses, curly skritches for eyes

set on tongue crushed between molars, 

             fine dust left on lips left

              oh little where-


          where have you gone?

           Pressed to silt      dust

      this time for mourning

      not gladness but weeping

           my chest cavity withers.

          Sealed eyes rattle in plastic pockets

               pop  pop-pop

          foil split from backing—rows

      pink & pink & pink

      and a row of white.

           A pale watery streak

            left where  oh where

          oh little barely-

         there   you were never


     A time for casting

   for gathering    fingers so thin,

                      a radiance around the wrist.


Mia Ayumi Malhotra recently received her MFA from the University of Washington, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in such places as Cerise Press, diode, Monarch Review and the Asian American Literary Review.  She is the recipient of the MacLeod-Grobe Poetry Prize and the Academy of American Poets’ Harold Taylor Prize, and currently serves as the associate editor of Lantern Review: A Journal of Asian American Poetry.