by geetika mahajan
i. and when you sleep
Previous Honorable Mention
i can’t help but see the stubborn creases
at the corner of your eyes. you are forever trying to erase
the stray white hairs poking through the darker ones,
you still refuse to dye your hair like the
other mothers already do. instead
you pull them out like stubborn weeds —
they don’t belong there
you are still young
thirty-five and thirty-five and thirty-five
no matter how many february twenty-eighths
ii. please don’t ever leave (me)
throw yourself around as if you’re replaceable when you’re not,
how you hurtle around
as if you’re unbreakable when you’re not,
how you never stop
iii. i am a selfish hypocrite
i grab your wrist to stop you
and have to let go —
you are thinner than i remembered
be more careful for god’s sake.
iv. our souls sing to different keys
you tell me to sit with my legs closed
i sit with my legs spread open and dare anything to happen,
you worry about me and i wish you wouldn’t because
i will always
make it out okay.
v. and the cosmos
i was your earth you were my sun,
so bright i thought you were perfection but you were just
burning yourself up for me
like i was your everything.
i am not your everything.
vi. on love
sometimes love becomes worry becomes suffocation becomes i can’t
i love you.
vii. how much i cried and how much you cried
good for us it was good for us now we are
but it is a
good sort of offbeat like we are about to careen into better things.
i will return and visit and buy you a private
jet like i promised i would.
viii. i dreamt you died and your body was on display under the buffet table
i woke up crying and i didn’t want to stop.
ix. and us
all i want is
to be dissolved into how you smell like
home and warmth,
just the sound of your voice makes me cry sometimes,
the world has worn down the planes of your face but i swear
i won’t break.
x. despite everything i have ever said you will always be my hero
gather now up and press it between the pages of a book
my palms are up and open to the sky —