Friday, January 27, 2017


i. Four Years Old

she rides a bicycle, the strange whirring
of wheels a premonition. bits of stone
flicker off the pavement, sounding like the
tapping of wicked fingers on a window. afraid
that if she rides too fast, she’ll never be able
to      stop. the chain may snap, glide through
the air, the wheels may unhinge and tumble
down a slope that doesn’t exist. she speaks in

‘what if’, of criminals that may pillage through
her house or rotten grapes that fall down the
wrong canal. of a car whose driver suffused his
blood with  liquor, who may drive at the
intersection where someone she loves drinks
coffee and checks her phone. walks slowly,
cautiously, avoids         corners that could
puncture her skin, make a viscous red liquid

ooze out. has to be told that jellyfish don’t
sting every baby splashing at the edge of a sea,
that restaurants do not sprinkle hate on her
spaghetti, that although the world is a perilous
place — maybe people die of old    age.

ii.  Eight Years Old

friends who go on stage and read out poems
to an audience of people who don’t care. her
poems still confined to a diary wrapped in black
paper, that she can scarcely      whisper about.
poems about brackish water, sickly incantations,
the definition of friction. is it wrong that she
hates poems about the vicissitudes of life? or is
it just because she knows       and fears them?

iii. Twelve Years Old

lacquered light spills through the windows, a
tight cage of sunshine. schoolbus wheels follow a
specific rhythm, soft curtains waver every now
and then, welcome soft slivers of golden glow. she
peeks out from the gap, sees a girl her age holding
a wailing baby against her      chest. rags that adorn
her skinny frame, bones of matchsticks and eyes of
hunger. watches a driver slap her away, hears the

baby’s moans         amplify. the red light shifts
colors, the wheels turn and crunch the gravel. goes
home, refuses cake and swallows   week-old
bread. refuses the pitcher of orange juice,
forces down half a tumbler of water. wears torn
clothes to a party where other girls don sequined
heels and fluorescent        headbands. closes her
eyes, prays that the baby is alive. that she has a

mother she can lean on.
that the world is nicer to people who don’t have the
luxury of controlling their      lives.

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