Finalist: Uma Menon

Sonnet for Bilingual Women

A mother and her daughter are shopping
            in the dark, swiping hangers with their sharpened 
mouths. One barks as the other howls,
            though neither blink to see the tears. It’s always 
one or the other these days: mother or
            child, sun or moon, this dress or that dress. 
Today the mother wants a trailing red
            that folds like her sari’s silk. The child wants the blue 
night sky, bundled in twitching stars.
            Neither have seen lilacs bloom in the South. 
The mother fears losing her child’s mouth
            but really she fears losing her own. The sun 
falls through the ground and the mother
            gasps. She forgets that it always shines.