We were there all morning: our palms still, our arms cut with
wood and brittle bone, hair the colour of charcoal. And with no fingernails to spare,
the hard snow slowly became our holy ground. What I saw then
was what I see now- pigeons, and crows with their legs bent, like
that of twig, brown blood I can’t quite remember. She says:
“They fly like a couple of idiots. Half-brained, mush skin.” Pink sky, pink sky,
and all of us parading with our eyes closed, log cabins that continually
remind me of what happened that evening. The blue towel lying at the
sofa corner, and the brown-black pattern, like the skin of a feral animal.
The questions the police asked were not about the eagles
or the creases of the towel– I could’ve talked about them, full detail, full disclosure.
The why-
and your peach skin, hands frost-bitten with all
the things you did not tell. “Stupid birds, all feathers and flesh.”
From then on, I looked, a sleepy-eyed one-legged woman, in the summer-
the cold air I could no longer embrace. I scaled the cities on your feet,
and the lines going from nowhere to nowhere – giving birth to both
heaven and hell, this world and that one, the sword, the pen, the real and the dream
and your message, like that of
the birds: us, suspended in balance. Cotton fibres, the last
shirt you wore before I saw your naked body,
a criss-cross, a war memorial, a souvenir, a museum piece. You were like a God,
almost like God. In mid-flight, downward trajectory, hitting asphalt, licking the asphalt.
What I saw then was what I see now-
again, and again and again and again. My eyes: pits, blurred at the edge,
flaring, and the birds knocking into us, feasting on our flesh
as we bring our eyes to the mountain noon.



Your palms, covered with grey splinters / look like holy grails / capturing the image of the copper street / the red light districts, the food which no longer / tastes like food, but an empty wildflower / full of promise, yet a sunset / bearing the beauty / the weight of the world / your dignity a mere masterpiece and your lips dripping with song / I hope you find some deliverance / in those splinters on your hands / they appear too sharp to be forgotten.



A breath, a smoke, white smothers,
carving a bird out of a tree trunk.

A yellow canary, a dead albatross,
the hair of a woman you scorned.

Houses of crayon, in which you
sat still, an insect in your palm.

A flat heel, a moving tongue, words
which you only half-remember.

Fingers, wires, water that tastes of death,
of a God you buried on a late summer noon.

Red clothes, lips you made with scissors,
a high tide of appreciation and salvation.

And persons- all kinds, all types,
with pink skies, stars that resemble

little leaves, visible only when ignited.



Smriti Verma is an adolescent Delhite from India, whose work has been published or forthcoming in Open Road Review, the DoveTales anthology and Canvas Literary Magazine. She is the recipient of the NaNoWriMo Polly Prize, and is part of the Adroit Journal Mentorship Program 2015 and GKA Writing Studio. Other than that, she enjoys working as a First Reader for Polyphony HS and Junior Editor at Siblini Journal.