Not quite five

feet tall

Head tilted right

Her eyelids


                                   Arms that held


                                   Now dangle


Nylon rope stretched

by a neck

The other end

swung ‘round

the kitchen beam 

                                  Clothes hung out

                                   to dry

                                  Would have suited


Teeth clenched

enough to let

A blue tongue

squeeze out 

                                   Legs that walked

                                   many a mile

                                   Now hovers a little

                                   above the ground 

Pinholes on the roof

throw dustbeams

Daguerreotype! Strangefruit!

Words leap about 

                                    Attempts at a snapshot

                                    is rendered futile

                                    As a breeze preempts the shutter

                                    and the body moves 

“She’s acting coy!”

Nervous laughter

                                      A little dampness

                                      on the floor

                                      Urine! And a

                                      triclkle of shit! 

Gumboots placed neatly

by the door

Shawl left by the

low hearth

                                   A few sticks

                                   and tea set to boil

                                  As if death

                                  was an afterthought 

Did she swing the rope?

Or did she climb

the notched beam

Did she test the noose?

& Calculate the height

with mathematical precision?

Beyond  the door

the neighbourhood crawls

Death a magnet

                             A closer look

                             reveals a bruise

                            Above the right eye

                            and a cut on the head

                            layered by antiseptic 

“She tripped near

the kitchen door”

The old man says

(A slap! And the

head snappin’ back

Is what it seems)

                             The foster son throws

                             an accusing look

                             “It wasn’t me”

                             The old one pleads with

                             folded hands 

Notes rolled into

the belly fold

And ornaments on the body

are quickly prised

As the body is prepared

for the morgue 

                                With children

                                on both sides

                                72 and married again

                                 for the last 14 months

                                 It’s Madison County gone wrong.


Tashi Chophel is from Sikkim whose works have appeared in Catscanned, Sikkim Now, The Weekend Review, The Sentinel and the IIC Quarterly.