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Malathi Maithri


Malathi Maithri (born 1968) is an Indian writer, activist and feminist, who is recognized as a distinguished poet in contemporary Tamil literature. Maithri has been the recipient of the Tirupur Tamizh Sangam Award and the State Award for Poetry by the Government of Puducherry. She is also the founder of a publishing house called Anagu.





Slaughterhouse

After closing the doors, She draws the curtains Across the window; and Removes her skirt with her back to me

A white lady past her sixties When I saw the olive-green panther On her right buttock, poised For a leap, with its forepaws raised, I hung back a few seconds without pulling up The jeans, yearning to touch The tattooed figure with my fingers The jeans fit her perfectly Now our seamstresses were bound To stitch and stack this model For a whole month – even in their sleep: “Spicy shorts” In the trial room, She stands in front of multiple mirrors, Admiring again and again How well the garment sculpts The buttock’s lower curve Into a crescent, and grips the thigh There is hope for high growth In sales, she says, and offers praise Ordering us to design A top for the jeans, She removes her vest To aid measurement: She wants it high, she says, Level with the lower ribs A webbed brassiere, Prettily embroidered with lace, Holds up her sagging breasts The tail of an animal, Crouching on her left breast, Snakes upward, below her neck I stand close, waiting, Measuring tape in hand Tongues jutting out, Leather jackets suspended on hooks Throw us their fixed stares Like cattle hanged to death The room’s heat keeps rising What can I do? When I pulled the too-tight jeans off her legs, Her bum, the skin dry and flecked With minute cracks, was scratched And bruised by my fingernails The wound resembled A panther’s claw marks, Says the autopsy report


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