sari sellers [2023 National Poetry Competition Winner]

Maithreyi Bharathi
Third Place Winner in National Poetry Competition

sari sellers in the heat of monsoon, picture it: narrow path
flooded with bodies, fabric blooming silver. i think i am a loose

thread, not brimming ruby but grey, the kind you tug from your
sleeve. a man chatters kannada to my mother and i imagine him

swelling with language: gold spilling from mouth to mouth,
soaring. i speak in shades of cream, tarnished rupees guttered

under tongue. a scared child again, clutching mama’s skirts;
fear peeling from my skin and layering a trail. oh god, the

eyes pressing into my back -- they can sense it. can sense
stars and stripes foaming at my lip, choking my voice. like

earth nestled in andromeda instead of the milky way --
what kinda kid can’t speak their mother tongue?

Maithreyi Bharathi is a rising senior at Saratoga High School in California. Her work has been previously recognized by the Scholastic Writing Awards, Poetry Society, and Bowseat Ocean Awareness Programs. Her favorite poets include Natalie Diaz, Ada Limón, and Fatimah Asghar, and some of her favorite books are Little Women and Beloved. In her free time, you can find her reading, eating ice cream, drawing, or filling up yet another Google Doc with an unfinished scrap of writing.

"Sari Cloth Seller in New Delhi" by Peter Rivera is licensed under CC BY 2.0."Sari Cloth Seller in New Delhi" by Peter Rivera is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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A magazine for teen writers—by teen writers. Under the Madness brings together student editors from across New Hampshire under the mentorship of the state poet laureate to focus on the experiences of teens from around the world. Whether you live in Berlin, NH, or Berlin, Germany—whether you wake up every day in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North or South America—we’re interested in reading you!