Nina Sudhakar

How to Read Palms

Heart line
A wheelbarrow’s worth
of abundance could not
match what you hold in
your hands, freely offered, 
the spine of your knuckle-
bone shielding the impulse
to take, rendering it into
give — 

Head line
& all the while, your
oscillating neurons
shimmy into reckless
starbursts, unable to
withstand knowing
that grenade comes
from pomegranate,
each fitting snug
in the belly of your
hand —

Life line
& a word with a slipped
pin is forever apt to
explode, if not to
wound; we never
learned to tell poison
on sight, from a distance &
ripeness sings of nourishment
until you arrive, at last,
to seeping rot —

Fate line
& there are seeds scattered
everywhere, waiting to be
grasped, but when you open
your hands, the creases quiver &
unspool. You have already
heard of the future’s treachery
but no one said the line drawn
backward would stretch so far
beyond your hands —


Not the Same as Namelessness

Listen:        the ritual of invisibility     is in your marrow    your body
    is a chapel     of bones    bow your chin        & pull in
   the spire       listen to your heart       tolling the hour       your blood
poured into         stained glass        unexposed        as yet
    to daylight       & the reedy marsh         of your lungs         sighs
with pleasure       at your company    & your breath        never sharpens
    into a scythe                Listen:        the laws of physics        
are in your marrow    your body    is a body in motion        until external
pressure    forces you        inward        tell me        where have you seen         
    such an expanse    of exposed space        other than your skin
     filigreed    with open-mouthed pores     begging please see me          tell me
what is existence     but a list of demands        no one is responsible         for fulfilling
    this is how     you reach    the vanishing point    no potions or brews necessary
just an incantation        repeated over & over        until the chant
    becomes a velvet cloak     but listen:     it will never    be your size


Nina Sudhakar is an Indian-American writer, poet and lawyer. Her manuscript MATRIARCHETYPES (forthcoming) won the 2017 Bird’s Thumb Poetry Chapbook Contest and her poems are forthcoming or have appeared in Ecotone, TRACK//FOUR and Rising Phoenix Review. For more, please visit