Mrityunjay Mohan


A braid hangs down my head
Drips down my left shoulder like a wound 
In the womb of my mother 
I was given an ultimatum 
To be a woman or to die
The umbilical cord held me until 
It was chopped, and a pathway was opened 
In my navel
The spot still bleeds 
In doctor visits, they say it’s still open 
Still breathing, still bleeding 
It is still waiting for Amma’s approval
It is still waiting for the blood that fed me 
Amma is clueless 
She doesn’t know that I am to not live 
That in case I die, I have a letter written on hand 
Water undulates like sound spilling into the ear
And Amma doesn’t understand that 
My skin was never mine, that 
I am soulless, that 
When I breathe, the open pathway in my 
Belly button breathes with me, that in 
Stories, I never see boys like me with 
Open pathways and misspelled names, with
Genitals that bleed every month for a 
Womb I want gone, with
Eyes that color themselves anew after every tear shed, with 
Skin that turns every night, and still looks the same in the mornings 
Is the body I rent mine at all 
It is like there is a looming landlord waiting 
To take it back, like 
There are little fences held around the home of my flesh, like 
Any man can move them, like
My organs are little wooden figurines that can be 
Moved to will like a toy kitchen set
My mind can be cooked, I swear 
My thoughts can be held in a pot of water 
The braid is coiled rope 
It becomes a noose until I 
Chop it off like the umbilical cord that once 
Held me in my mother’s 
Womb, my navel still 

Read previous
Read next

Mrityunjay Mohan is a queer, trans, disabled writer of color. Mrityunjay’s work has been published or is forthcoming in The Michigan Quarterly Review, The Indianapolis Review, Oyster River Pages, The Masters Review, and elsewhere. He’s been awarded scholarships by Sundance Institute, Tin House, The Common, Frontier Poetry, and elsewhere. He was a Brooklyn Poets Fellow. He was a semi-finalist for the Copper Canyon Press Publishing Fellowship. He has worked as a guest editor, a reader, and an intern at various literary journals. Currently, he’s an editor for ANMLY, and he’s a reader for the Harvard Review and The Masters Review.