Preeti Vangani

Catalogue of Intrusions on My Mother’s Breast(s)

My father’s head. His mouth and nicotine breath. Her hand in wonder. Also in hunger. Black beads of her mangalsutra. Her hand in labor. Nails carving half moons. My little wailing mouth. The milk within. It’s short supply. Her fingers squeezing, praying for more. The guilt of Formula. My first hunger and her hunger to keep me full. Lactation supplements. Enhancers and thinners. Pain relievers. Primrose oil. The nurse’s push and pull. An uncle’s eyes. Another uncle’s eyes. Ice packs in June. Sweat and stink. Ribbed plastic of the green hand fan, it’s wee back and forth, it’s wee-er wind. Heat of her yoga mat. Her rosary, her rosary. Acidity. Estee Lauder’s Tuberose Gardenia. A kerchief and rolled up cash in her bra’s trap.  Manoj Bajpai on TV. Jiggle from shimmying in the kitchen to Kajra Re. Cholis and kurtas. The landline’s receiver where the heart does its business. And the cordless. The strapless. It’s pinching underwire. Half cups and corsets. White cotton. White lace. The bright colors they became in the pre-wash soak. And soap. And shampoo trickle-down. My piss. My burp spit. My drool. Her burps, her loud cow like burps. And chlorine from WaterKingdom’s summer holiday rivers. The bump bump from FlowRide. The benign lump and biopsy’s needle. Mammogram clamps and doctors’ hands. A plug pulled. Logs of wood where a child of mine would’ve coo-ed.

Preeti Vangani grew up in Mumbai, India and is the author of Mother Tongue Apologize (RLFPA Editions, 2019), selected as winner of the RL Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in Threepenny Review, Gulf Coast, Hobart among other journals, and has been supported by Ucross, Djerassi and California Center for Innovation. She is the recipient of the 2022 PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers. An alumni of the program, she teaches at the MFA program at University of San Francisco. Preeti is currently working on a manuscript of poems and a collection of short stories.