Toward an Unfinished Work IX (from “Daughters of Sarkhan”)

Mia Ayumi Malhotra

I come to this as a work of grace. Her bright hands—they lead me through. The river runs swifter, deeper than anything I know. Its wisdom becomes my own.

In this, I too become a daughter of Sarkhan. A baptism by flecks of river water, by two cold hands that reach to grip my own. Tightly, now, so that the skin whitens.

This light I am channeling, she is channeling it through me. This story—not for the dead, but for the living. This, the tale the river has to tell.

And the other mother? The one paled in the mangrove swamp? Stricken, bereft—

Though, something stirs in her, I sense it. Some dull gleam of river water—the deep current.

She lost her daughter. Perhaps she comes to find her self. Perhaps the light pouring into her hands from the water’s surface, brimming with moonlight, will spill through her body onto the page.

Her secret work, a book of translation. The sifting of light through the ages. Accretions of truth—itself, a shifting shade.

Is it true what they say about redemption? That when a soul is brave enough to stand in darkness, it’s then that she sees the light?

Not death, but life.

The story unfolds but carries me with it. A daughter newly sprung from its banks—headlong, hands clasped in its grip.

About the Work

Mia Ayumi Malhotra

Mia Ayumi Malhotra is a Kundiman and VONA/Voices Fellow from the San Francisco Bay Area. She holds an MFA from the University of Washington and serves as the Associate Editor of Lantern Review. Read more at:

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