Purvi Shah

Made in India, Immigrant Song #3

(a note from a New York City streetwalker)
Some worker in the sweat
of Madras, some former weaver
from Kashmir, some hand in Ahmadabad’s dust,
has been pounding iron again.
The New York City streets swell with feet;
multihued tracks glide over the flat steel
disks which offer entry into the city’s interior
lairs. The writing seeps through our soles
though few fathom the signature, “Made
in India.” These alien
metal coins, transported
like my birth, mask
a labyrinth of tunnels
in a city where origin
and destination are confused.
Sometimes I wear the stamp
on myself; sometimes I feel
the wear of a surrounding world erase
the fine etchings. Here the imprint
of India is a traveler’s
mutation: the body’s chamber is made
hole, the skin not smooth, circular,
but cloaking a bumpy network
of channels, spirit mobile, expanding.

Purvi Shah
“Made in India, Immigrant Song #3” is from Terrain Tracks (New Rivers Press, 2006), and first appeared in NuyorAsian in 1999.