I keep my nails
last week we sat in the sun for an afternoon and watched our skin peel,
tried not to scratch ourselves raw even as sand clung to our hair.
at dusk, we drove away and our towels flew towards the horizon.
that night it stormed.
today I am back at the beach, rubbing sand onto my forearms
and trying to unearth something between the bone and the dermis.
you ask me what I am looking for and we plunge
our hands into a dune.
two miles away a man sinks into a pit and
does not rise again. his son walks past,
does not see his father reaching out to him.
the sand does not give way to our hunger, instead pushes back at our pulse:
newton’s third law brings us to our knees and we try again.
the sun sinks into the line and is thrusted back up. light curls
over the sand and around our ankles, stings tender skin with
something from another dawn. another decade where we
are trying to unearth bones that are not yet buried.
we do not know yet that we cannot change
the way our fingers twitched in brine, the feeling of sand stripping
the years away
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