/leela srinivasan


It’s like this: the shadow
of a crossfire, a man’s breath
& dirty palms—

I saw you first
as a honeycomb. You lived
in a garden once, the crown
of suburban mythos, I swore
they said your every follicle
was a diamond.

I was infirm
& I was devoted. When
the garden overgrew, spattered
pollen & dust, you crawled
into the earth beneath
a cypress. Built a sanctuary
from the season. Tucked
your feathers close to your chest.
Warbled your underwater song.
It would be easier that way,
to be uncountable. Still: some
hunters know the pressure
points that lead to collapse.
Like foxes, they decide when
the storm is about to fall.

If I were the mother—
if my child were an offering,
their lashes clogged with soot—
The air, tasting of lemongrass
& brine. Your feathers
on the ground. There: the prize
that you win is not you.

Now I remain & walk
the rosy dusk, cup some loose
pills from the drugstore they said
might calm me down. Where I
built this forest & I can erase it
if I want to, leave dark smudges
on the page, tire tracks all up
& down my left hand.

Leela Srinivasan is an Indian-American poet and MFA student at the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Meridian, The Inflectionist Review, the tiny journal, Ligeia, Up the Staircase Quarterly, and others. She currently lives in Austin, Texas.