Raspberry Hands by Moni Brar

Poem title: Raspberry Hands Poet: Moni Brar Poem: My mother doesn’t flinch, doesn’t blink with each jab, each prick as I use her sewing needle to tease transparent thorns from her stained hands. She tells me that I need to take better care of my skin, that my hands feel like calico, not like a sleek calico kitty, but the rough calico cloth made of unbleached, raw cotton. I let her words glide over me as smoothly as the thorns glide out of her skin. I don’t tell her that the word calico comes from Calicut, one of the many places that doesn’t exist in her India, that place she manipulates and contorts like a trapeze artist swinging from one image to another, sometimes a lost paradise, sometimes a place to loathe, but always a place throbbing with want. End of Poem. Credits: Copyright © Moni Brar Appears in the League of Canadian Poets’ Fresh Voices 21, edited by Joan Conway and Blaine Marchand Moni Brar is an uninvited settler who lives, writes and learns on unceded, unsurrendered territories of the Treaty 7 region and the land of the Syilx of the Okanagan Nation. She is a Punjabi, Sikh Canadian writer exploring diaspora guilt, identity, cultural oppression, and intergenerational trauma. She believes in the possibility of healing through literature. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in PRISM international, Hart House Review, Existere, Hobart, untethered, and various anthologies.


This poem first appeared in Fresh Voices 21, a project from and for the League’s associate members, edited by Joan Conway (Check out her personal blog!) and Blaine Marchand. The League’s associate members are talented poets who are writing and publishing poetry on their way to becoming established professional poets in the Canadian literary community. We are excited to be taking this opportunity to showcase the work of our associate members in this series!

Fresh Voices 21 includes poetry by: Lisa Alletson, Moni Brar, Neall Calvert, Melanie Flores, Michelle Hillyard, Frank Klaassen, Joseph LaBine, Josephine LoRe, John Oross and Nan Williamson.

Check out Fresh Voices 21