In this poem, you got orange hair. At some point, your skin uncrumpled and you bottled it in texture. You saved yourself for inspiration

and today is lurid, the sun asleep on the job. The café is dark and bright as you reach down to a column of blue pills in your left pocket. Carefully, one bullets into water, atoms of air disappear like the string that runs through each pearl studded to your clavicle. Gulp. Your body can’t decide between breakfast, dinner, salt, or sugar. Sweat threads down your jaw and I understand, Orange, some decisions are easier. Dear Orange,

You’re sitting now. The clouds are elsewhere. You lift a fork (before it sinks), a knife (as it reveals), a spoon (in midst of pour). Your eyes scratch across the arabesque floor. In this poem, we once spoke different languages and I had a son. He never went hungry until he ran into our home and I imagine each sink and slice and shovel you turn on its side and hold up to the sun and

I close my eyes. Orange, tell me how to bottle daylight. Tell me we were never meant for narrative. Go on. I’ll chew on mistranslated memory as the floor gives out and you lean forward in the bright, swirling salted water with your feet dangling and my gaze flickers skyward. Underneath our tables my boy is laughing as he runs. I watch you watch / from above as our streets turn to dust and home becomes a house and a house becomes a shelter and a shelter crumbles into its walls and I hold a bowl of wet mangoes for my boy as I look up through smoke as though so sweetly

your eyes could scratch and sink and slice my pain (as it laughs and hides) as you cross your legs into the black canter of boots raising dust as though the shouts still irritate my throat through the warm rust lined with red rooted eyes facing a clear sky shimmering blue with sound as when bodies are pushed and pushed overboard for more food for myself and my boy with his noonlit hair still running so fast into summer that he

got no fear; you turn back, on edge. Afraid of words the way I’m afraid of apathy. Dear Orange, this poem is about two ends of one ocean. It is about wet mangoes and colors I cannot see anymore. Pink and blue. Violent hues. A grey tight suit scribbles for you, face blurred by boundaries. You uncross your legs. You put down the sink, the slice, the shovel, the sun. You float inside the bright with orange hair and quiet pearls I hope you take off when you’re nervous / to remember the feel of texture, to laugh at the sunlit absence of cutlery, to give thanks to your left pocket for the immediacy of floors and the delicate rush of walls uncrumbling and finally glassing blue.


Note: The image is a piece by Anandita Bhattacharya.

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