I keep my nails
“You are not a god. You are not that enlarged self. Indeed, you are not even a whole self, as you now see.”
— Anne Carson
What I want is nothing left in the world
to love. To slit open the pregnant belly
of a starfish. To prune in the bath of the past
tense. To hold biology’s breath.
To play God. To say all hurt is necessary hurt.
To believe what I say. To worship it.
What more could a girl dream of? A mouth
to call mine. A mouth angled to swallow
a serpent. The garden in its maw. Look at me.
Don’t stop. What could be lovelier
than heaven herself. Whose heart do I terrify
most? So what you’re telling me is that
God gives you reasons to hate yourself. Not you.
So the lighthouse floating above the
night market has not once sent its searchlights
after you. I waited. I know. Better than
any patron prisoner. I was born throatless
in a myth with no father. Who authored
this tragedy but me. Could you take that kind
of Technicolor heat? The sea rising to a fault.
A body that hoards prayer like a house
of heirlooms. A body where you die
in every iteration of sick, wake only to count fewer
and fewer bones. To live and tell the tale
when the world’s already in love with shinier things—
You and I both know it’s what I do best.
SHREYA VIKRAM is a writer based in India. She is the recipient of the Dorothy West Scholarship 2020. Her work is forthcoming in Lunch Ticket, GHLL, Salmon Creek Journal and elsewhere. You can find more of her writing at shreyavikram.com