Anand Prahlad

Keeping Touch

Whenever it seems she’s turning inside out,
unraveling like a spool of thread from her belly.

Or when that x-rated hush falls like a cold front,
like snowflakes when she walks into a room. 

She takes the razor between cool fingers, trembling
and slices slowly backward like a surgeon.

The rivulets of blood staining her inner thigh
are surreal as carnival music, a silent

clown, popcorn, a Ferris wheel shadowing
an open sky, hashtags of scarlet lipstick

every which way across her mirrored face,
from corner to corner across the ugly canvas

of the mirror, the pinnacle of poppy red nail
polish smeared across disobedient fingers.

It reminds her of ink, indigo. It reminds her
of milk drops from a nipple, of sanctuary.

It reminds her of who she really is and keeps
her in touch with where she came from.

With slaves. With red light districts.
With hunger and asylums. With nappy headed angels

and black goddesses those people out there
could never imagine or ever hope to reach.


Anand Prahlad is the author of two books of poems, Hear My Story and Other Poems, and As Good As Mango, and a memoir, The Secret Life of A Black Aspie. He has also published critical articles and books on black folklore and proverbs, including Reggae Wisdom: Proverbs in Jamaican Music and African American Proverbs in Context, and he edited the three-volume set, The Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Folklore. Prahlad is a professor in the English Department, at the University of Missouri, where he is the Director of the Creative Writing Program.