my bra, my gym shorts, my
ice packs over my knees. soft hum of
cicada skylark mourning dove through
the window. the night is thinking of
morning condensation on cold glass; i’m thinking of
kissing the girl i was just on the phone with. i am perfect
in my desire—i turn abject terror into
summer winds and open palms and
storms of hummingbirds so huge they drown me. my only fear
is of consumption. my only fear is of my neighbor’s dog howling
desperately from the backyard, i want i want i want.
like a sparrow’s idiosyncratic call. like
waking up covered in dew and sliced open
to the marrow. like realizing no one knows anything about the body except how
to make it look clean. palatable. no one knows anything
about the body except how to make it get down on its knees and pray.
in the dream, she always kisses me first. i tear open her letters and
lick the envelope’s seal, an awful mimicry of
her mouth on mine. i’m getting good at making and unmaking myself–
i become an exit wound with no place of entry. the poem
becomes my grave, as if in every version of the story the girl on the phone
comes to me and says, i am dying of malnutrition; let me eat you whole, and i say,
yes, yes, devour me. because i know shrinking is my birthright. because i know
this is an endless cyclical retelling of the history of giving up.
the truth is, i want more life. i want a relentless
leave-all-the-lights-on sort of hope, less rabbit-heart-in-throat and
more the sound shadows make when i unspool them from
underneath my fourth rib. i want to find a home where all
brown bodies know how to do is
grow. i want to open my eyes and realize that it isn’t unattainable.
Leela Raj-Sankar (she/her) is an Indian-American high school freshman from Phoenix, Arizona. Their work has appeared in Stone of Madness Press, Ex/Post Magazine, and Ghost Heart Lit, among others. In their spare time, they enjoys aimless night walks and reading poetry about oranges.