The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Minal Hajratwala’s “Bountiful Instructions for Enlightenment”



for Paul Dunbar

My sisters & I write all day & night about silk
its delicate weft      golden peacocks & parrots
rush of wind through ink hair      waiting.       Just the word

        chanted like a sutra      silk      silk      silk      silk
        brings the poetry buyers to their knees
        stoned on the musk of exotic suffering        Whatever

                we say      love      war      race      hate
                if we wrap it in silk they will take it
                home, unminding.      It will live in their rooms amid demons

                        of jade      throw pillows      Chinese funeral papers
                        marble dust from the Taj Mahal.       At night
                        we will wriggle out in ribbons of soft meat      like worms


This selection comes from Minal Hajratwala’s book Bountiful Instructions for Enlightenment, available now from The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective. Purchase your copy here!

Minal Hajratwala ( is author of the award-winning epic Leaving India: My Family’s Journey from Five Villages to Five Continents (2009), which was called “incomparable” by Alice Walker and “searingly honest” by the Washington Post, and editor of Out! Stories from the New Queer India (2013). Her latest book is Bountiful Instructions for Enlightenment, published by The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective, a collective of which she is a co-founder. She graduated from Stanford University, was a fellow at Columbia University, and was a 2011 Fulbright-Nehru Senior Scholar. As a writing coach, she loves helping people give voice to untold stories.

Ben McClendon is a PhD student in creative writing at the University of Tennessee. He previously studied poetry at Northern Arizona University after teaching high school English for several years. His poems have appeared in Indiana Review, Yemassee, Chautauqua, Redivider, Rattle, Word Riot, and elsewhere. Ben lives with his husband in Knoxville.

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