a woman is a woman, and the rebuilt, scribbled and written over patchwork she is moulded from. and so i was. four years ago, a pink-washed godfriend now left behind hurt her head in a courtyard, all dazed in childishness. i rubbed a damp towel across the wound and left it to fester near a blustering sycamore. caretaker says give her some sugar, and the swelling will get better. i spoon it out gently, crystals seeping into thick-gummed chasms. i want pain to rub me the right way: fever licking fleshy tongues and epidermis sizzling underneath polluted skies. i want to slip into a cadaver’s treasure chest every sunday evening and gently lull it to sleep. perhaps the cicadas will keep it company. there is beauty in the undead. i then caught a thrush in my outstretched palm. we don’t get flamingoes on this side of town. perhaps we never will.
i sometimes wonder how atheists die. i do not know if they hear weeping brine or a pacific siren’s shifting amethyst repentance or if their breath is taken away from them all at once, a caged bird who cannot, will not sing. if a saintly nightmare of a deity curls jasmine into their fingertips, does blasphemy still remain?
i wonder if i am a poet because i have no faith, or i have no faith because i loathe being a poet.
later that night, i bleed dregs of clumped up papyrus through my faded yellow jeans. in school, we whisper sanctimony into barnyard holiness and clutch a chapel’s cross-eye to our breasts. like it isn’t sacred. like it isn’t holy. like i do not wish to drape tapestries of a single sprinted melody against every cool shopfront i pass by.
i know that my body exists in the same way i know the earth does: a jutting mass of dusky curves, and desert flower crowns like wishful thinking and stepping into abbey road in the early autumn, a seer into the gaslamp’s many luminaries. i know that if a gland’s chill makes its way into a boarded up bus seat every field trip, it leaves a mark.
i want to leave a mark.
pride is peddled to me wherever i go. it looks at me from the corner of its eye, squinting up at me from this city’s intersecting tram lines, raising its eyebrow at me. i dislike its taunts, try to deflect them like arcing volleyballs on pigeonholed track runs.
i meet it halfway.
Anoushka Kumar (she/her) is a student and writer from India, with work forthcoming or published in The Heritage Review, The Incandescent Review, Ayaskala and elsewhere. She likes wood-panelled flooring and Phoebe Bridgers. Find her at https://anoushkakumar.carrd.co.