There is a chink in the wooden table in the living-room.
The gash is deep but narrow,
like the dry, sandy clefts rivers become in the summer,
like a cut that bleeds more furiously than it pains,
and just as violent. It slices us open.
Look around: the chink becomes a sunny day
at the furniture market, a picture of
cautious newlyweds filling up an empty home.
We pace around the living-room and whisper of the
oranges sectioned, the mangoes scored on this wood;
of the children reared and let go; the lovers found and forgotten.
The laughter spilled and hushed.
We laugh a little now.
Suddenly we are accosted
by the smallness of joy, the knowledge
of how little and how much it takes to be happy.
We think of how quickly
the wood will turn to earth,
and how close behind we follow.
Laughter hangs in the air like a memory.
The table passes in silence, alone. As do we.
Hiya Chowdhury is an aspiring writer and student from New Delhi, India. She was the recipient of the Senior Runner-Up Award at the Queen's Commonwealth Essay Competition in 2017, shortlisted for the Margaret and Reg Turnhill Prize in 2019 and long-listed for the Palette Poetry Award in 2020. Hiya's work has appeared and is forthcoming in Hellebore Press, Rust+Moth, Ghost City Review, BBC 500 Words, LEON Literary Review and elsewhere. Her debut children’s fiction novel was published in 2018. She is currently a Senior Editor at Polyphony Lit and a Prose Reader at Orange Blossom Review.