Untitled, by Abhinav

there are certain twilights that resist
             escape. time bleeding out of your ear—
the swathes of pink still like a gaze
                         directed at nothing. hunched men,
     a back and forth of blotches and you
are seven and seventeen and seventy
          all at once. your eyes tugging at the insides
of your skull.                   memory is a rot
in the ribs and nothing
                                       you say adds up
to a quench you can name
              so you name other things for the sake of it.
flesh and bone.
                 carve and cartilage.
         shadow,       eyelid,
                                  vein and light—
the dream where there is only cold
                water and your body an afterthought,
the city an eternity
      sinking into itself. the threshold
of your skull—your brain gnawing out of time
  to weave Nothing.
                 your greatest fear your only solace—
        the deep blue silence, the shoreless ocean.
      your hands silting into the sink,
 snowflakes penetrating your face. your father kneeling
       by your side submerged in apologies
                     for the things he did and didn’t
           and you mumble a lullaby for him–
                            after all, he is still your father.
   you retell him the myth of death
        he taught you when you were seven
                  and that everything is just a variation
  of one syllable – om. you never bought it
    but you sing to him still. tell him
to let it go—to let go—let go—
    him circling your pyre
           with a baton in his hand,
        then the bludgeon in your skull*
 that tears you back into your name. light,
a needle stuck in your cornea, and you
         wake into the white mumbling
not yet not yet not yet
                but it’s too late.

*In Hindu funeral tradition, once the pyre is lit, a family member takes a long and strong bamboo stick and breaks the skull of the dead person thrice before letting the body burn.


Abhinav is a graduate student residing in Delhi, India. His work has appeared in The Remnant Archive, Gulmohar Quarterly, Tide Rises Literary Magazine among other forums.

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