Fragments of Seva*
Jagdeep Raina (MFA PT 2016)

I am asking you to wade through digital wastelands
You must dig up fragments of seva, they still exist
A fragile link between worlds is still possible
Thank you British South Asian memories
Thank you 24 Pearl Street, Provincetown, Massachusetts
Click, click, I found you pure and gentle,
gifting me with remnants of heart-wrenching stories
Click, click, I found you in the ashen directory
gifting me with the intersection of environmentalism and performing arts

I am asking you to look at this photograph taken nearly fifteen years ago
I reach out to touch the screen, my fingers
pulsating against the pixels
The screen is brimming with scorching heat
as I imagine those Punjabi fields must be too.
Click, click, more fragments of seva are emerging
Thank you Movement against State Repression in Chandigarh
Thank you Baba Nanak Educational Society in Bathinda
Thank you Punjabi Bharat Kiran Union, Kheti Virasat Missions

I am asking you to weave together memories of 2005 and 2019
It’s all you physically have, but you have this story now too
Resurrection can be reassuring,
an act of subtle responsibility that shatters this toxic silence
Walk gently through this violence and take my hand
She bends down, her fingers hiding behind curved leaves,
tips protruding in a spiky, menacing gaze,
bulging cotton balls sagging, their heads bowed down in anguish
BT Toxin, Fertilizer, Diesel, Machinery

I am asking you to slow down
amidst the picking, faster and faster and faster
A piece of cotton fabric wrapped as a duffel bag, thrown over her shoulders
The second woman pausing,
her cotton bag a grid pattern, blues and whites
The third woman adjusting her dupatta,
Kikar tree hanging and piercing the skies, sweltering heat.
The field stretches for miles, yet the leaves surround and awash you with shades of green
I close my eyes so I can taste olive, mint, sage, lime 

I am asking you to come to terms with the truth
We’re nothing but first-world global hoarders
Pointing fingers is a tricky beast
I urge you to shut your mouth, listen, sit down, crack open your heart
I urge you to hold in your hands the fragments of seva you have dug up
They will became jewels that will long outlast the dowries, the degradation, the violence
They will become jewels that can help us find our way back to Mother Earth
They will become jewels that can help us disinfect her of the rot
She always loved us, she will always love us.

*Seva is the Sanskrit word for “selfless service.” 

  1. Call for Submissions
  2. 3.29.20 Irina V. Wang
  3. Let Yourself Be Lifted Jackie Scott
  4. Art Is Everything Jen Liese
  5. Two Poems Ella Rosenblatt
  6. Living Room Dance Party Ariel Wills
  7. On Walking When Walking Is Advised Against Keavy Handley-Byrne
  8. Untitled Cita Devlin
  9. Ads in Corona Hannah Oatman
  10. COVID-19 and Communitas Elaine Lopez
  11. A Time for Pie Elizabeth Burmann
  12. How to Stay Motivated When You’re Stuck at Home Clarisse Angkasa
  13. Coerced Harmony (A Tour) Hammad Abid
  14. Zooming In and Out Tongji Philip Qian
  15. [Form] Ciara Carlyle
  16. Hi.txt Dan Luo
  17. A poem about boredom, a composite Maixx Culver-Hagins
  18. Eyewitness News Tristram Lansdowne
  19. Distance Maps Marcus Peabody
  20. Therapeutic Suggestion Maria Aliberti Lubertazzi
  21. Keep Your Heart Six Feet Away From Mine (and other moments) Arielle Eisen
  22. Twenty Instructions for COVID-19 Charlott Isobel Dazan
  23. Cuerno 1 y 2 Yan Diego Estrella Wilson
  24. A Monolith of Grief Regarding the Absence of Touches, or Letter to a Future Lover García Sinclair
  25. Coronavirus by the Thousands Drew Dodge
  26. Two Poems Kathryn Li
  27. Beds Are Burning Aleks Dawson
  28. Still Lifes Yidan Wang
  29. Fragments of Seva Jagdeep Raina
  30. Packing Up and Staying Woojin Kim
  31. Chronic Pain and Fermentation Ralph Davis
  32. Quarantine Letters Hannah Moore
  33. Sounds of Silence: An Isolation Soundscape Dara Benno
  34. 14 Day Detox for Designers Erica Silver

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