Hang Fire

Here is almost home: grouted
            white tiles settling like a heartbeat
while I wait for the doctors

            to call me back. Picking at chipped
nails and listing promises that probably
            never mattered, but I can’t say for sure.

Now I am caught up in remembering
            the story of your knees, climbing rocks
with you at the cliffside beach

            and watching the divers before they leapt.
There’s no victory, really, in getting me to love—
            we don’t cheer for the lung as it inflames.

This is how it always goes:
            I am the one who leaves first, I prefer
making new mistakes. I never pretended

            to be a demigod. I’m only real
in waiting rooms, itching to paint
            the sky with the blood on my hands.

This is a reprint of work originally published in The Shame to Cure: a modern epic.

Leela Srinivasan is an MFA student at the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin. Originally from the Jersey Shore, she holds a BA in Psychology and MA in Communication from Stanford University, where she wrote a collection of psychological poetry as her undergraduate honors thesis. She currently lives in Austin, Texas.

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