‘Roxana’ by Kavitha Rath


Some historians call me Roxanne,

But my father called me Roshanak,

his bright little star.

Born in backwater Bactria under the light

of a sulfuric acid-laden planet.

Though I prefer the civilized Roxana.


At sweet sixteen,

I married a man named Alexander

atSogdian Rock, after he ransacked

our fortress, the last stronghold

to my home and kingdom.


I followed him through blood-tainted,

agonized campaigns, to elephantine paths

in exotic India, drinking syrupy, red-rose wine

to avoid typhoid and cholera.


Participant and observer to sinuous,

crimson-velveted schemes,

keeping court in barbaric fashion at his beck,

seeping in the empty spaces of crystal lattices,

the casual glances of satrapies and soldiers


Rough, purple silks fall over my dreams.

Where is the room for entrapped desire

when I have to share your love

withHephasteon and Stateira?


I keep close in the dark corners of this party,

knowing deep inside, when you are gone,

with your relentless recklessness,

the only release I’ll see is the smile

onCassander’s face when he vanquishes

your crumbles and signs my execution order.

Kavitha RathPoet’s Bio: Kavitha Rath lives in Washington, DC and has written blog and journal articles focused on global health. In the past, she has received an honorable mention in Princeton’s Leonard L. Milberg ’53 High School Poetry Prize contest, and recognition from the Georgia Poetry Society. She enjoys writing about literature and post-colonialism on her blog Illume at Eight.

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