Thursday, 2 December 2021


A Minor Event

by Pratibha Kelapure

Darkness lingered around the house when
the newborn’s first cry pierced the still of the night
when the midwife announced, “It’s a girl.”
overhead kerosene lamp swung a little
and the new mother clutched the cold bedpost
and moaned faintly, “girl!”
then the light was out

at dawn, grandfather knocked on the door
his regal gait and his weighty chest belied
his worn-out shoes and his empty pocket
cradling the baby in his callused hands
disappointment lain bare for mother to see
“girl!” that one word he said! “girl!”
tears of terror rose in mother’s eyes

one simple word! A slammed shut iron gate
a tight knot crawled up her chest
and curdled the milk in her bosom
in a wordless voice, she sang to the baby
a loving lullaby, a song of regret
the baby cried for her birthright denied
cried and cried in vain

until one day when she smiled
smiled and gurgled until
the grandfather’s heart warmed a little

a minor event—noticed by none
the momentous one
girl’s first bargain for love

* * * * *

Pratibha Kelapure is an Indian-American poet residing in California. Her poems appear in Choice Words: Writers on Abortion (Anthology, Haymarket Books, 2020), Entropy Magazine, Plath Poetry Project, miller's pond poetry, The Lake, Tab Journal (upcoming), Amethyst Review (upcoming), and many other literary magazines. She is the founding editor of The Literary Nest.

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