Wedding Portrait, 1995

My mother before she became my mother: smiling, still.
Neck heavy with marigold, blush blurring into sari.
Sundar gudiya. A perfect doll.

The universe is dying—entropy, my textbook calls it.
Dying, an action verb, like sparrows molting, like lips
parting. It is easier to be many things than it is to be one.

Once, my mother dropped a Roomba on my head
and said, “I wish you were a boy.” A decade later,
I respond, in a whisper: “I wish I were a boy, too.”

My mother isn’t pregnant anymore. At night, she sits
at the kitchen table. The room swallows her, cavernous
as a jewelry box. Red spiderweb eyes. Yawning

little sparrow mouth. Still, we pretend
to be inevitable. Still, she pretends to wear her curves.

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Namrata Verghese is a writer and academic. Currently, she’s working on her JD/PhD at Stanford University. Her work has appeared in Catapult, Tin House, Hobart, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and elsewhere. Her first collection of stories was published by Speaking Tiger Books in 2019. Read more or say hi at