Letters To Pittsburgh #I by Emily Mohn-Slate

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy

Karol Bagh, Delhi


लड़की दौड़ रही है

The one sentence my students remember in Hindi:

The girl is running.

          she is running      she is five     her legs are small

the men do what they want with her —

            she cries out   they cut her throat   she quiets

                      a floor below her parents

                              the men stanch the blood with candles

I know kind men, loving men.

          cab driver brushes my leg —  you married? any kids?

                    dark birds glide over the Jama Masjid

I used to think they rode the air for some beautiful purpose —

                    wings trail shadows on red tiles

                    the circling a calculation

                              a means to strike cleaner, to control.

I pull my skin closer.

          They can’t see my face.

                    What can it mean to pray now —

Emily Mohn-Slate teaches first-year writing at Carnegie Mellon University and is co-director of the Social Change Semester. She is a graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars. Her poems have appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Fourth River, Pittsburgh City Paper, and are forthcoming in the Indiana Review, Vector Press, and the Motif-v4 Anthology. She was runner-up for the 2014 Indiana Review Poetry Prize and runner-up for Free State Review's 2014 John Elsberg Poetry Contest.