Pudgal, my grandmother explained, is the matter that sticks
to your soul when you do a bad thing.
Cloistered in the sunlight, stippled skin gleaming
Didi probably has a lot of pudgal, my brother said. Fat soul.
Bad girl. He smacked my hand
I scrubbed the beet on my brother’s mouth, clotted red and glamorous
Where are all the decaying esters?


Didi. Didi Kong. Diddy Kong. He plays Patience on the bed,
his back digging into mine, dealing the cards for no one
The cards fan out on a citrus island
Esters scenting curtains
Once I powdered his cheeks with stolen blush
Esters within a grandmother’s perfume bottle from 1949
Esters hydrolyzing into smuggled Ciroc
Uneaten, the last whorl of the sun


Shorty can you hear me? Can you read my essay?
The whirring of an uneasy heart rotating clockwise
A bird crushed under a pedaling wheel
Our aloe vera plant on the balcony is fat with gloss
I slice the limb, balm for his smoked palm
Esters fumigating monsoon boats
As peacocks sprint across the lawn,
Chalky froth sublimates his oval train set
Lustrous with acetate.


Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Ananya Kanai Shah

Ananya Kanai Shah was born in Boston and raised in Ahmedabad. Her essays have appeared on the Ploughshares blog. She was a 2019 Kundiman Mentorship Lab Fellow, and has read original poetry in New York and Washington, D.C. She lives in New York, where she works for a marketing firm.