haibun in which i contemplate self-love

1:40 am in midwinter and i’m peeling day-old nail varnish onto the ground. how acrylic leaves an aftertaste quite this sour. outside my window, the may flowers are withering: their leaves drying up, tendrils retracting  on nights like these, i go outside, tear off their petals and hold them in my palms. the fireflies gather outside, flitting around their stems, just out of reach. my mother always told me that nights are meant for rest, rejuvenation, for hope. and this way i know that even wildlife loses its way occasionally. spring left, a flightless maiden that doesn’t want to be found. someone is watching conan in the den speak at a princeton commencement address, his voice filtering out through the vents. work hard, you know and things will fall into place. my father always told me i was resilient. so i’m watching in silhouettes, and trying to believe.

i’m on landlocked waters, and thumbing my way through flagstones. a boy at school laments this class of 2023 memories, sinking into riverbeds – fallingwater at eden. we’re glad to be here, and it’s been tough, you’ve been so strong. i’m proud of you, i hope you know that. then the holiday spirit is digging its nails into my chest, clawing out what a girl mistakes for joy. we stoke the fire with birch, let its flames warm our dog-like bellies. and as night falls, i see an orchid discarded on a rooftop, silent, iridescent. resilient.

so it is in full bloom, still, giddy in the crook of my shoulder, and i’m caressing it and thinking you know this could be love. i know it is resilient like

synonyms for growth,
   gripping a bud in autumn,
and holding it close.

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.

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