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Self-Portrait of A Sinking Orphan

it is summer,
my mother is wearing a quarter
of her watermelon ice pop
cherry chapstick over her lips,
and the sun is throbbing inside
her throat as she narrates
tales about the sea beneath us,
playing kabaddi with our native feet;
her eyes morph into christmas lights,
as brilliant as the sun crawling,
and crumbling–almost birthing,
from inside of her mouth
when she is spinning
the memories of her maiden days
which she spent devoted
the sea like the was
a prophetic cult in vogue
and she was the swiftest,
most fanatic of followers,
and the blindest of believers.
she is threading gauze-like
syllables with her teeth to dress
the wound of shame my naked
body is–a mass of evidence,
and the witness that confronts
and confirms the life she could
have lived had i(t) never been
excavated from the ruins of her body.

we spend our gloomy monsoon
afternoons sleeping in,
my mother’s hand on my heart
is a prayer i memorise like a promise
all of the two-hundred and
six bones i inherited from her are
safely tucked inside the fortified cave
carved out from her abdomen and arms.

i wake up to the sun-tinted stain
of my urine on my bed the size
of my grief that i cannot gulp
like i have been taught to
swallow my thirst;
my hunger for her tenderness
is only as valid as my will to
mortgage my mouth to
the crown of cutlery.
sometimes i feel like i can go
to war for just a glass of water
that does not taste like war

Balance by Lynn Bianchi

because, you see,

the flood of last summer did not recognise
her scent of history and misread
the hymns of my mother’s devotion as
her consent to be consumed
and the last breath that fuelled
her lungs was a cry for help
that drowned unheard with
the limbs of her body i am made of
and i look like i have been dissolving
ever since

she used to count the pennies
of rain like we count our gods,
her mouth was only as big as
the prayers that feasted from
her palms. my mother pickled
her tongue with salt and water
so whenever she breathed
on me, i felt the roots of my
hometown written on my skin.
but a mole grew on my body
wherever she kissed me,
and now my body is saran-wrapped
i am trapped inside with teething
monsters of her memories
and my mourning.

what i mean when i say
i am blind to the colour
of rain is that when i hear
the rain banging on my doors
i find my mother’s sun-dried
face plastered against the windows–
she looks as foreign as the language
of my grief and the absence of
her skin and my faith;
i look for her, to find whatever
is left of her but i avoid the water
to avert my gaze from
my reflection and inevitably
digesting all that is truly left
behind by and of her is my body,
and that one day
with me,
an addict who used and
abused till she overdosed,
will finally cease to exist.

~ Srishti Saharia