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  • Kiranjit Shoker

Love letter (to brown girls)

By Kiranjit Shoker


whose skin is sun spun gold honeyed kisses and almond ripe

joy that has warmed our skin for millenia.

you, who wears your tapestry of sun silk,

dyed like shades of cha

(strong brew or milky cool)

skin who others seek to drape across their lonely beds and pin above their darkened mantels; no trophy prize for those who triumph in their melanin.


whose face carries the history of our people;

noses telling the triumph of your lineage, bumps and planes

that cut through history. we decorate our heritage; koka glittering, a thousand slivers from a looted Kohinoor, a piercing of pride.

you, who weaponizes your eyes like love

sour tamarind whorls

beckons them to your lash line

soorma paints the wells of your eyes

and lovers perch on the edge,

mesmerized by mango bark and sugar cane.

they would rather leap into your irises

for fear that you look away.

a letter for you

whose presence is profound; ethereal bodies that dance in the world like water laughter lilting like chanjira in courtyards

taur, like a burbling creek follows the curves of your bodies softness.

whose hair is flora

growing and cascading

from temple to toe

in your absence, memories of you are nishani like the scent of incense once it has unfurled its heat.

a chithi for her;

nani and bibi

bhena and bhabia

maman and thiyan

whose gajrai chime

as they guhn and behl

folding flour into phulkai

whose fingers are a loom

as they maalish and braid

weaving soft hair into silken rope

whose tongues sharpen

carving courage from their daughters

translating nakhre as self-love

whose will persists

as their mendhi fades

whose arms soften

hips widen, bellies laugh

who churn salty tears into sweet tea

who hold their daughters with pride

a love letter for you

who finds herself in these words and lives them true.

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