8 min read


after Emily Dickinson 

thread wrapped like a noose 

on my fingertip tightens. my tongue burnt 

lips shiver every syllable ash

                                          blood jammed

                                                                     in a skin globule -the blues                                                                                                     play in tangled up earphones latched

                                          to a broken screen. warning. ‘storage full’

tobacco in the air. smokescreen 

outside my window. the neem tree 

only a shadow of itself

                                       It’s a hungry forage for a blank page. 

it’s a trick I learnt from a friend who is no more 

when you can’t go to sleep, imagine putting it all up 

on a sharp white page and erase it all until it’s blank.

                                                       and I have been trying all night to recall the void                                                                                to feel what not feeling anything feels like 

but the page gets all crumpled up 

memories come apart

                in a sequence of threads 

crevices hash rehash against each other

                                                           I fill my lungs up -

                                    inhale twice stack them up one against the other

            countdown                                                                                            five                                                                                        four                                                                                  three                                                                              two                                                                       one                                                                     exhale - a trick I learnt from an instagram reel

 I wonder who figured it out

          get high on oxygen. manipulate the mind.

          there's a bigger crisis at hand. blood

          is piling up. blood is always piling up.

         let it go let it go breathe just breathe

            I wonder if that's how he pulled it off,

yanked his life all out on the blank page

until there was nothing left. but tonight 

isn’t the night for all of that. 

and if I make it through this night 

this'll be just another funny story

                                                   but it's not funny yet -there’s blood

                                                   on the floor if I try to stand up I’ll slip

                                                   and the fall will never end- it doesn’t

make sense                                        

I got another trick up my sleeve

I imagine myself in a coffin-no more

in the middle of things -only brown dirt

                                                             dead cold ground -hallucination- 

                                             lack of oxygen no resistance from my bones 

                                   all quiet at last 

                         until someone starts knocking at the mahogany door 

                                   and threatens to pull me back into the light.

after Megan Fernandes

One winter, I went quiet and turned away from my life. 

Into the city’s sunset and the buzz of its bazaars, watched 

gambling matches by the traffic signal, measured tombs

and mosques with my bare feet, basically anything 

that’d distract me from myself. Unfollowed people

on Instagram I thought I'd grow old with. Strolled

aimless through the mud and slime avenues, wrote 

lies after lies on the blank page in my rage for the truth.

Stared at the small abysses in metro stations thoughtless,

for longer than the norm. Had no-one waiting for me,

so I went a little further on every front. To the nook of my street

where sunlight doesn’t proliferate, to the shrinking alley

behind Nizamuddin Railway Station where they unload

crates carrying God knows what. Figured out Kant’s categories

of understanding. Met Kafka and Camus in this wooden cabin 

of a dream and Emily Dickinson in her room locked up 

for years writing letters to her loved ones who just couldn’t 

reach her. That’s what it boils down to, doesn’t it?

You have got to protect the ones you love from yourself. 

Turn away. Go quiet. Watch them from a distance

in the dimmed light and hope they’re going to be okay.

So that winter, I stopped making fun of my mother’s 

little vanities that got her through the day, you know,

God and all. And hoped she forgets that she ever had a son.

Thought I’d be free that way, remorseless I’ll return to the void.

I get like that during winters, clinging to quiet, gravitating

towards death and dark, wishing for more and more sleep every night.

But mothers never let go of their child so that was out.

Once I picked up my shirt in the gym when no-one was looking

and was sad that there weren’t as many lines as I liked

and ghosted this girl who told me that I was the soft poetry

writing type. Even at my worst I don’t like brackets.

And sometimes, it caught up to me, my life, but I could never 

really cry for myself so I had to make something up, 

some tragedy actually worth the tears inside me and somehow 

it was always about my mother. And it was never 

made up, not really. But before I knew it, it was all done 

and dusted, the January clouds were in the rearview mirror 

and dawn's teeth had started to give. I hate when the days

start getting longer again. No matter how cold, home is still

home and there is always a crevice for you to slip into,

but all that gone, the twilight stretched like a yawn across 

the landscape as we stumbled downhill against our will

into March hoping to be held against the current for once.

Abhinav is a graduate student residing in New Delhi. His literary work has appeared in The Remnant Archives, Livewire and various anthologies.

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