The first house across the wood that never whispers
entraps stories, as such houses do.
I peep in: on the other end of the courtyard an unruly flame
of the forest flutters within my view.
Armed with slippery books I scurry to school as the flower’s
orange arms wriggle in the late spring breeze.
Holi. The house hatches its net, an intricate mesh of colors.
Water balloon shackles my feet. I glide past the threshold.
Cloud of velvety water bursts, and from its crevice, a dark green monster
pins me down, dresses me in sweltering yellow spray, gnashes me up.
I smell burning plastic and think, it must be the woman
who burns every year when good wins over evil;
but no! the flames of the forest rise to devour the house.
Silence claws and uproots the shape-shifting stories.
Holi. Again. Full moon dangles on my doorstep. I stay in, studying until
colors squeeze out of my mouth, flow under my breath, rave:
Butea monosperma, Butea monosperma…
Torsa Ghosal is a PhD candidate in the department of English at Ohio State University. She grew up in India where she was awarded the National Balshree Honor by the President of the country in 2005 for excellence in creative writing. Her poem was adjudged a winner for Inspired by My Museum Writing Competition 2014, organized by the British Council and Sampad (UK). Her poems and short fiction have been published or are forthcoming in Himal Southasian, Unsplendid, Muse India, and Truth About the Fact.