Virginal Autonomy by Nidhi Agrawal

After Sylvia Plath ~

“I have given my name and my day-clothes up to the nurses
And my history to the anaesthetist and my body to surgeons.”

At my eighth,
Before he pierced the subcutaneous layer of my nape,
He measured my varicose body, clasped with streams of all things medical,
How you decode the thatch before digging into the springy grass and the soil underneath.
What did he find? Flesh? Veins? Blood?
I don’t know!
I could only feel a pack of hundred needles intruding through the thatch to swim in my blood.
We talked about the mathematics teacher in my school,
I was telling him about the columns of fire and rows of water around me in School.
My father was told that I would be a perpetual extinguisher of fire and procreator of the water cycle.
After a while, when my cupid’s bow collected dews of fresh blood,
He stopped, drank the Cimmerian breath of clouds
The column of dripping eyes of fire,
And, left me between sleep and awakening.

At my fifteenth-
There was a war between the physician and the ‘Surgeon’-
Nobody paid attention to who won.
After my body was assassinated in the operation theatre-
My father cut his umbilical with me.
My mother saw fountains of seawater breeding in my heart,
She said to pray to the one who
Brings life, brings death
and we agreed on this.
And, I prayed to the surgeon who was dressed in God’s spring water – ropes of light,
Whose presence eyes could not touch.
Every word he uttered was medicine,
Every time he glanced at me was a surfeit of love!

A decade later,
When dunes grew at the shores, there was a heavy accumulation of cobalt, nickel and mercury.
I always knew that Mercury’s dune brings windfalls and slip face when retrograde.
But, I didn’t know how Venus could burn love for you.
This time, the surgeon didn’t give me any coated pills,
There was no pond of God’s own spring water,
The jar was slipping and stinking with blooded tampons –
His mouth was madder with sovereign sins
Biting me to slavery and death.

But, today
In blood, and in flesh, in my virginal autonomy,
I take my body back from the surgeons.


Nidhi, who grew up in India, focuses on issues of emotional and physical trauma in her poetry. She strongly believes that poetry is a source of joy, pain, and wonder—a tool that keeps her going in life—and is driven by the intense physical and emotional trauma she encountered through her medical condition.

Nidhi’s writings have been featured by Robert Morris University, Ars Medica, University of Alabama, Laurel Review, Altadena Libraries, University of North Dakota, Project Muse sponsored by John Hopkins University, Hobart Books, Writing Center at Washtenaw Community College (WCC), University of Illinois at Chicago, BYU College of Humanities and the Department of English, The University of Pennsylvania, Quadrant Australia, University of California, Riverside, Chicago School of Arts, Lewis Clark State College’s literary journal, St. Francisco University, Xavier Review Press, California State Poetry Society, The University of Tennessee, Chronogram Magazine, Letters (Yale University), Anodyne Magazine, Setu Journal, South Asian Today, Indian Periodical, Garland Magazine, Muse India, etc. She is the author of ‘Confluence’ and an esteemed contributor to the ‘Suicide Volume 2 Poetry Collection’ & ‘Anodyne.’

Poet’s Instagram: @niyaaa____g




Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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