Leena Soman Navani


Golden Shovel for “last words” by Lucille Clifton

as a child, I never cried (mama) 

calm & quiet in the corner, I 

was cooler then, cooler than I am 

now. perhaps this was an unforming 

—a letting go of stillness out 

of necessity. as a child of 

snow from silver skies, silence was in my flesh 

before sound could slink its way into 

each crack & crevice. the 

skin is a city, the city a skin of rubble 

& base born again into sky. as a child of

fish on land & lions in water, the 

one true thing was no solid ground 

but plenty of rich soil. there 

in the grass she will 

press a finger of wet earth to her lips, be 

curious for a new 

mineral taste to feed the pink scars 

of her cut mouth, be poised for a new 

challenge among meaningless tests 

of her senses. as a child, every new 

reverberation in her ear will smother the silk “Mamas” 

sewn into her muscles & all that noise will keep coming 

into the soft matter in her soft skull spinning her around

Leena Soman Navani writes fiction, poetry, and reviews, and her writing has been featured with Pleiades and Muzzle among other publications. She’s the poetry reviews editor for The Rumpus. For her work across genres, she’s received support from the National Book Critics Circle, Catapult, BOAAT, Bread Loaf, the Visible Poetry Project, and the Bennington Writing Seminars, where she earned her MFA and was a 2023 Alumni Fellow. Her debut poetry manuscript was recently a finalist for the University of Wisconsin Press Brittingham and Felix Pollak Prizes in Poetry and BOA Editions’ A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize.