This and That

Your skin stung from
the stabbing around the corner,
bottle splinters collecting in your wrist.
A rusted wrench of fear twisting
inside your stomach saved you a life sentence.

You, half pendulum, half axe, mid-swing culling the women from your life, thundering for the front door, clothes and hat like those on the boys in the back of the police van.

It hides here, all the softness a body could need
to tame the rage that once threw
your mother against the wall, tore
a clump out of your sister’s hair and nearly
pushed the knife edge into the other man of the house.

My hands against your chest. Two halves of a prayer, begging you to show me.

A Study of Bone

In the winter, I try to feed this ache the dignity of language.

Carry myself through the aisle
with an armful of groceries for four metres before collapsing over the absence
of food in my stomach.

In addition to, perhaps,
an acute remembrance of
the cold prison cell you sit in,
staring everywhere but the stains in the corner of the oor, promising to yourself, maybe even us,
to make it out this time and run for your life.

The man with the body piercings
has chained his dog to the railing,
left it to bark at the seizure of a street lamp while he grabs his dinner -
its wet mouth charged with aggression.

I run from it in the way
the women in my family have always skipped the bulging cracks in the pavement

I didn’t hear from you for two weeks, so I assumed you were dead.
Walking home late at night,
I imagined I might find you somewhere in the shadow of a tree,

Adidas hood pulled down to your chin,
re ecting the brake lights on passing cars
scanning for vital signs, some residue
in the corner of your eyes, looking
through an empty gaze into the cold wilderness of stars.

I would come with a hand
a centimetre away from your lips, waiting for you to bring the dead air back to warm, wet life, before noticing the spring blossoms in the tree, and this old body of yours no longer of use, shed just as the winter was coming to an end.

The orthopedist at my postmortem examination,
will announce the science of this trauma to my loved ones:
Note where the gradual ruptures hit the ᒘbres in the bone,
before the soft cover of skin laid itself across its severed regions,
holding the body in place.

Sunayana Bhargava is a British-Indian poet. She is a member of the Barbican Young Poets, Burn After Reading and Octavia collectives. Her work explores experiences of trauma, separation, home and the body. She tweets about astrophysics and feminism at @SunayanaB.

:: more from this issue ::

Three Poems

Francine Cunningham

Three Poems

Mahan Ellison

Bones and playing pretend

Amogha Sridhar

City Folk

Nonnie Augustine

Four Poems

Fisayo Adeyeye

Two Poems

Sunayana Bhargava

Desk Job

Makai Andrews

Two Poems

Wilderness Sarchild