Ghazal For Ghost Towns

Prelude and three ribs overturn themselves. In the distance, two bodies slipping in the light.
A loving mother braises her shadow, chewing the veal off a skeleton in the light.

The sky—dotted with factory overkill. Primordial overdose, radiation in a bottle.
But you, rebel son, pride skinning rubble off your shoulder into the moonlight,

you, disfigured overlord, sharpen a scalpel on flint. Tell me, is this how a warrior mistakes
a weapon for surrender? The answer, a fire in his belly—or a mouth limning light.

No obituaries for the dead here, but for the living, for a swollen life gone too soon.
Last summer, a break-in. Barbed wire dissected in a high noon’s dying light.

Vigilantes, they called them—spread-eagled, scrabbling up mountain-paths.
Unmarked gold, thrown over the edge of a cliff, jagged and undulating in the light.

China dolls—porcelain, bellies sucked in and tongues protruding out. Flighty daughters.
Mistresses, tucking in their innocence. Not a single curl out of place. But with light

comes hope. Another land. One where the carnations do not fracture themselves to blisters.
Where the harvest moon does not drip blood red, rendering demigods wolves in the light.

Then, of breathless counsel—the wind billowing dandelion corpses into the sidewalks.
A wagon ride, gasoline lapping at their breath—honeyed, driftwood in firelight.

An anomaly. Brought to the gallows, a pantomime surrendered in his throat. Divinity
flourished. This exile, a specimen of existence. Freeze frame, and a mother’s light

glistening by a sanatorium. The walls of this hospice starched. Inhabitants built
from the soil of a motherland, pregnant with possibility. For a while, the light

rebuilds a town’s frozen embers. At last, a maiden’s braying siren-song. Or
a requiem for ruination. Butterfly spirits, scattering in the torchlight.

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

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1 Response to Ghazal For Ghost Towns

  1. L.K. Latham says:

    I suppose she’s talking about India, but I see Texas in this. Sad.

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