Jessica Nirvana Ram

Ars Poetica: Construction

I craft a woman out of paper cranes. Fold her a pair
of wings, keep her edges sharp. She grows fangs,
pointed & gnashing, a verifiable threat & I am left

with bloodied fingertips & chipped nails. I follow her
anyways. Watch as her wings stretch, search for air
to catch, a ledge to swoop down from.

She reminds me, briefly, of my mother, but louder,
a rougher outline as if the birds are uncontained, struggling
to stay stitched together. But it fades quick, like a trick

of the light & I wonder if I’ve built her strong enough,
if she’ll hold or be shredded by the wind. She is wide,
filling my vision like daybreak, hazy & bright, a measurable

distortion & for a moment she looks as though she’s grown
arms, & flickers against my periphery like an homage
to Lakshmi & suddenly I am on my knees,

threading a garland of lotuses to lay at her feet. This is
what I’ve always done, assemble deities with my own palms.
Manufactured miracles designed in my image, an imperfect

idolatry. But who am I to say what is & isn’t a god. I want
to be worshipped as something makeshift & unstable,
to believe everything has the capacity to be holy.

Her eyes keep glowing like circuit sparks, & I want to ask her
about god but she dips her tongue into black acrylics,
as if to beckon me closer, as if to say paint it yourself.

Jessica Nirvana Ram is an Indo-Guyanese poet and essayist. She is the 2022-23 Stadler Fellow in Literary Arts Administration. Jessica completed her MFA at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and received her BA from Susquehanna University. Her work–about inheritance, expectations, and radical self love–appears in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Hayden’s Ferry Review, HAD, and Honey Literary, among others. Jessica is a Pushcart nominee and currently a poetry reader at Okay Donkey Mag. Find her @jessnirvanapoet on Twitter.

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