“Bones are not love-handles”: Four poems by Kuhu Joshi


I’m talking about people who popple and fall
and sneak up sneakily up your throat,
then bicker and backer while hacking at your jaws, then sift and shift
down your throat pipe into your diaphragm, down & down
into your belly, its mouth, before beginning a clockwork,
clicking & clicking in between your thoughts, I’m
talking about the handy-work of clocks, the clanging and banging
and clacking of thoughts, the hours and hours between each tick,
the slinking and sinking between each tock, I’m talking about
how endless, how endless
this clock.


Whole moons

When you take a piece
of the whole
it is still

The piece still whole
and the whole
still whole.

And if you give this whole
to someone

it is still whole.

And the very first whole
is still whole.

is the first whole.
And maybe love
is a part of it

and maybe so are your knees

your crooked, swollen-
under-the-bone knees

and maybe whole
is who I feel

when the backs of your knees
flatten, then leave

two shiny pools
mooning over my shin.


What your doctor will not tell you:

On the days your intercostal muscles are tired from holding up,
choose a semi-soft pillow and throw them.
Hard-back chairs will hurt no matter what.
Arches will come easily to you — a curved spine knows how to bend.
You will develop an affinity to mountains.
Rest will mean those nights when your left rib and right rib
are touching the bed in one line.
Do not listen to ‘Sexy back’.
Road trips will mean calcification.
There is no right bra size.
There will be men (and women) who will trail your vertebrae.
You will accumulate an assortment of pillows.
Bones are not love-handles.
On Sunday afternoons, you will want a right-rib-hump massage —
find someone with large palms.
Do not listen to ‘Sexy back’.


What your doctor will tell you:

45 degrees to the right. Thoraco-lumbar. Cut open. Iron rod. Stitch. Small surgery. Milwaukee. Kuch nahin hota hai. Insert. Spine is still growing. MRI. Pregnancy.
Girls grow till seventeen. Iron. Curved. Rod. Sharma ji hain, vo fitting kar denge.
No known cause. Stop tennis classes. In eight years when she’s twenty. Brace. No
known cause. 22 hours. Lacheeli. Push ribs in place. Phir vo slouch nahin karegi.
L6-L7 peak. Bent-back X-ray. Idiopathic. Take off your shirt. S shape.
Are you wearing a baniyaan? All normal activities. Surgery.
Bohot ladkiyan aati hain. Aap se bhi chhoti-chhoti.


Kuhu is a poet and a development economist. She currently works at the International Food Policy Research Institute. Her writing has been published in The Bangalore Review, Cocoa and Jasmine, The Elephant Journal, and elsewhere. She lives in New Delhi.

Read more on Bengaluru Review:

Monsoon verses: Five poems for the season

‘The trees grow upside down’: Five poems by Papiya Bhattacharya

An investigation of longing and vulnerability: Sufia Khatoon’s poetry



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