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I am afraid when I don't know what I am afraid of: Poems from NaPoWriMo 2022 Day Two

Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) by David Hockney

Daughters like you by Srishti Saharia


heaven was in cosmical agony

the night you were born;

the gods living in her underbelly

were dueling to settle an affair of

her nebulous honour— or so they

heard to convince themselves in

a futile attempt at reasoning

with their godlike virtue that was stapled to

the razor-sharp pins of violence.

she was looking at the earth

beneath her feet like a mother

looks at the bubbling face of her

newborn for the first time,

when dettol-infused air:

ambitious, aromatic, and

a little nauseating,

whose signature smell—

sometimes hopeful,

sometimes forgiving—

is the hallmark of maternity wards

arguably in every hospital

around the globe,

flooded your blossoming,

china rose-red mouth and lungs

for the first time outside

your mama's womb

daughters like you

are born from the ruins of

the brightest peeled oranges

to deliver under the guise of

the existence of your faces

the only fragments of light

that arrive during winter's

gloomy solstices at

the doorstep of your houses.

daughters like you

inherit their mama's gift

of forgiveness and language

of hope and celebrate with

candor so grand,

as if they have obtained

eternal copyrights from

a god to become one.

daughters like you

listen to the silence

in the rhythm of their mama's

lips when they speak,

and make up words and

pronounce them on

their behalf on their own

before nibbling on and

swallowing them for supper.

daughters like you

are bred and born in

and fed from land [that is

non-existent on men's copies

of maps and poses as

a conundrum to them],

away from the unwelcomed

and strange yet familiarly

hideous and hungry

mouths of gaping men;

you are taught alongside

the english alphabets the diction that even

the mothers of the mothers

of your mothers memorized—

a dialect enigmatic and celestial,

delphic to the hearing capability of men.

in this closed-book universe of diction,

'a' stands for 'avoid';

[ because, you see, apples

can be peeled (and cut

in the absence of

their compliance and consent

to their indecent robbery and

dishonoring of their blood-stained skin)

too easily, and women shouldn't be]

while 'b' brings down the chimney

with it 'breathe' [they don't know

how often womenfolk seem

to shed or lose the instinct in

the paramount part of their brain

that knows how to take in air

with noses and mouths that

are programmed to smell and

taste fear before seeing or

feeling fear because

daughters like you,

are more afraid when

they do not know what

they are afraid of.

'c' sneaks in with 'call'

and the cat drags in 'for help'

which are morphed to be its

silent letters which can be heard

and acknowledged only in

its halo-like, mortal echo,

so listen carefully and well.

the underwhelming 'dogs'

and 'drums' can share the backseat

because in this fiction of a diction,

'damage' rides shotgun with 'd'

to battle for the aux cable

'e' is abandoned by 'eggs' and

'elephants' and are replaced by

'escape' making an appearance

and so on and forth goes on

this peculiar lingo conceived

and baptized solely and wholly for daughters like you.

daughters like you,

however, were never taught how to

create a partition [as strong

as the opinions toxic communities

form of and hold over the heads

of unmarried women over

the age of twenty-five]

to isolate anxiety from

its society-christened phrasing of "attention- seeking"

so, here you are,

twenty-five and then some,

without ever really being embraced

by the privilege to turn your index

to point at a conventional

definition for and motivation behind

all the terrors and jitters

the sound and sight of strangers

create within you;

strangers seem to carry their

strangeness wherever they go,

wherever you go,

like the homeless carry

their homelessness in jute bags.

instead all you find yourself turning

is half your torso under moonless skies

to look behind with every seven steps

you take on the gravel beneath your heels,

while anxiety attacks are fueling

your heart's will to survive

more than to live,

instead of giving up

and arranging your body

into an amalgam known to

the laymen as "mess"

but, dearest, remember,

you are the heaven's god-daughter,

and daughters like you

are the most tender of

tragedies of their mothers,

but also the most ferocious

of felines and the strongest

of their allies in their war against

the hidden mines of terrors that

may detonate with either of

the seven thumps of steps

against the earth and send

another daughter,

just like you,

just like me,

back to our godmother

—heaven's own: daughters like you

I think I am happy again⁣ by Mrinalini Karmakar

I think I am happy again

On a grieving Earth, happiness is a sedative,

And the chemist says, “we are out of stock”.

You and I are hemmed in on this planet,

like iron-dust stuck to a magnet.

The event of our separation is a force that equals to a rocket propulsion,

And only failed missions count.

You wear melancholy like your glasses,

so you see a defeat as a defeat

and a victory as the abstract piece of art you bought from a street-side artist,

that you hung on your wall instead of a mirror,

So when you fail and stare at it, only you know you are playing peek-a-boo with your past.

You shed two tears interrogating your worth with questions like

“Where do you see yourself in the next five years?”

Worth has been preparing itself for two decades now, but

Worth stands there with pin drop silence,

And you stand there for an answer,

You nudge your worth,

“Can you see yourself?” When you don’t even have a mirror to see your face.

Peace is a cake and your silence is celebrating its fifteenth birthday of the year,

Peace is in pieces now,

And you don’t dare count.

You say you are out of appetite,

But your mother thinks you need to eat to be healthy,

How many rice grains did you chew to make your mother smile?

That is to say,

God and grief are sometimes the same,

Omnipresent and Omnipotent

How you keep praying to God,

Slaves of grief, how you keep praying God,

for happiness.

On a happy Earth, grief is a sedative.

And the chemist says, “How many tablets for you?”

Your pocket is empty but we have a liking for “free” sample products.

You take two pills with a glass of wine,

You are feeling again.

How does it feel to feel pain?

Because pretending is pretending to have forgotten the wounds from defeat.

I ask you,

“What is defeat to you?”

You tell me how she kissed you,

And how you turned into her lips,

Now you are kissing your own palms,

Because defeat to you is your ‘unforgetting’,

You tell me,

“River banks that fall for water,

Find themselves in water and non-being.”

You must be afraid of love,

Because ‘unforgetting’ is a stubborn state of mind.

You fall asleep on my lap, sedatives work just fine.

Next morning, we are not strangers,

You wake up as if you never wanted to sleep,

You whisper,

“I am only afraid when I don’t know what I am afraid of”

You tell me,

“I think I am happy again.”

As your shadow, I can only wonder.

A Haunting Dream by Petula DSouza

a haunting dream



a brave animal who can sniff prey or peril,

i'm foraging

in the blindness of the night, restless

my frozen bones have climbed out

defeating a thin sack of pink flesh

soft, damp,

a homecoming for maggots

who love a muted mess

depleted of magic potions;

without the deliverance of heaven

i'm a decorated wasteland -

then, trees are no longer trees

above me, but

spindly creatures without limit

waving goodbye.

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