We chew on prayers before we stuff our mouths with cereal, ma says empty hearts are deadlier than empty stomachs. (my mouth is getting heavier with absences)

my face reflects better in spoons than in mirrors, because i am the carrier of grief and love and all the things that never stay in the cusp of my soul. i watch ma carry an earthen pot back home, the water leaks through a crack. (i curtain my arms with sleeves, wondering how many of them i can hide)

my fifth grade teacher asked me to write about ma and punished me for leaving the page blank. i came back home with a hollow smile and she fed me her share of joy with the last piece of bread. (she emptied herself to pour into hearts, my teacher never taught me how to use words to describe emptiness)

i sleep with all the lights of my room turned on because the presence of things to hold onto makes you feel less lonely- the only shame is we don’t know how to outstretch our hands to take. i water the neighbours’ plants every morning, by dusk, the tank runs out of water. (i turn my eyes away from the garden in my backyard)

we are fed emptiness before we get hungry for food, ma says hungry souls are deadlier than hungry mouths. (my heart is growing more hollow with every spoonful)

My teacher never taught me how to use words to describe emptiness

Resham Sharma