Elegance and Rights

How is it that I work so hard to find elegance and taste? How it might
only occupy other people’s Sunday mornings, my blue silk, of the peignoir.

But the chiffon of Stevens, Pound, and Moore sticks. Maybe I inhaled it?
I may sit in a replica Eames chair; its simulated leather feels genuine to me.

I write a poem about the rose and yellow pillows, and those flowers

are not reproduced or stitched. That the Orientalism I exist in is a different
and I must figure it out. Or in my femininity, what is my subject?

I’m not committed to making a poem consume a pastoral joy or give birth.
Or adulate in my cultural heritage or build a mimesis of its merits.

It may be something else: an interior self lashed or celebrated in between
the heart and the uterus, carefree to think about what the world might not bestow.

But governments control our idea-of-purity, our bodies, our words,
our narratives. Governments and religion. They reproduce themselves. How to flee?

I can tell you that if the hummingbird came nearer I wouldn’t shoo her away

with lyric nor would I give up the liberating moment when I could see how
I am finally comforted among the books, their selves, and the social decibel

of how I look into the outside; albeit, I’m still alienated by the legislation,
and how its rhetoric obliterates my rights, desires, and the domestic resilience

laundered in my tone. I will stay in the fabric of fibroin patterning,
my natural American scenery, cut out to the body of one using art

for therapy, for poetry, for life to please keep me loving the fiction of the self.

Prageeta Sharma is the author of the poetry collections Grief Sequence (Wave Books, 2019), Undergloom (Fence Books, 2013), Infamous Landscapes (Fence Books, 2007), The Opening Question (Fence Books, 2004), which won the 2004 Fence Modern Poets Prize, and Bliss to Fill (Subpress, 2000). She is the founder of Thinking Its Presence, an interdisciplinary conference on race, creative writing, and artistic and aesthetic practices. Her recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Best American Poetry 2022, The New Republic, and Yale Review. A recipient of the 2010 Howard Foundation Award, she has taught at the University of Montana and now teaches at Pomona College.