Chhaupadi–a found poem for my global sisters

The prompt for today’s poem, as you know, is to write a portrait of family. I thought I was going to write about my own family, but the story I posted to Facebook yesterday about what women endure in the name of “family”  in Nepal, India and Bangladesh kept pulling at my heart. I am horrified by what women around the world must suffer. So here is my first draft of a found poem about my sisters forced to practice Chhaupadi.

–a found poem for my global sisters–


to cowsheds

The stone

dark, filthy
freezing, sweltering

Littered with

hay, muck,
insects, dung,
dirt, hay


impurity dictates
(what, where,
with whom
and whom)

Not allowed

to enter,
cook, touch
to go to
temple, school
to eat
but salted bread
or rice

Disobey dikta

destruction, death
to family
crops wilt
well dries
fruit doesn’t ripen

“Untouchable beings”

centuries in
Nepal, India, Bangladesh
for sins
menstruation and

Difficult myths

practiced generation
to generation

Our gods

won’t tolerate it
any other way.


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